“What a year we’ve had”

Christina McAnea salutes a year of successful striking and campaigning, in a rousing conference speech.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea today praised the thousands of members and activists who have “risen up and grabbed the opportunities of our campaigns and action.”

Ms McAnea opened a wide-ranging and quietly passionate speech to national delegate conference with a simple observation – “What a year we’ve had” – before presenting a list of achievements that were “changing history” and the lives of members throughout the UK.

These were “the picket lines, demos, rallies and campaigns that UNISON has either led, or supported, across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all through the past year.”

Industrial action across most public services was front and centre of a speech that was often met with cheers and hollers of approval.

She praised the NHS members whose biggest strike action in decades “won the hearts of the public” and forced the government to finally come to the table with more money.

“There have been some brilliant moments on the picket lines,” she said. “Our members braved hours of freezing weather to stand up for what’s right – not only for themselves, but for their colleagues and for the future of our public services.

“Picket line pooches became a social media sensation. Dogs are no longer just our best friend, they’re the number one industrial action campaign companion.

“Hearing our members describe their work – telling their own stories on why they’re taking action – was the most powerful part of our media strategy. It helped the public to see ­– and feel – the importance of what we were doing.

“And I was struck by how many young people – particularly young women – there were on the picket lines. It gives me confidence that the future of our union is in safe hands.”

Watch Now

Christina’s full speach from UNISON’s national delegate conference in Liverpool is available to watch on YouTube.

Catch up: Christina’s keynote speech