UNITE COMMUNITY REGIONAL DAY
Thursday November 13 2014
What an amazing day!! It was well organised, informative, fun and inspirational!
Unite Community is 3 years old. There were 480 members in this region (Yorkshire, Humberside and North East) last September, now there are 1000! No other union is organising people who are out of work. There are now 5 branches in this region, with South Yorkshire the biggest and 2 other branches are on the way.
This was a day for 3/4 activists from each branch in the region. Other members came from Newcastle, Durham, Barnsley, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Grimsby Teesside and Newcastle. It was inspiring to hear what the campaigns were achieving with the support of Unite Community.
Unite Community is helping release an absolute powerhouse of energy. It is involving people of all ages, abilities and experience. Campaigns include support for the Freedom Riders which has grown into a national campaign; Justice for Orgreave; the Bedroom Tax, opposing benefit sanctions, boycotting workfare, demonstrating against ATOS, campaigns against the closure of children’s centres and campaigns around student fees.
Branches have petitioned, held public meetings, rallies, demonstrations and supported picket lines. Two branches have had joint meetings with PCS members to encourage union staff to refuse to carry out unfair and cruel sanctions.
Some branches have established food banks and clothing banks – with a laundry in one branch area, washing and ironing the clothes for free. This has been very helpful for people attending job interviews.
There are courses for public speaking, learning computing skills, welfare benefits training; banner-making – whatever the need to take a community forward – it can be done with Unite Community support.
It was agreed that we needed to be clear about our aims which are to raise political awareness and give a voice to people who are not working, helping people shape and build strong working class communities.
Many of our campaigns will be about resisting austerity cuts to jobs and services and challenging racism. It was felt important that we link up with industrial unions and with other community organisations who are working with the unemployed and that we send delegates to trade councils.
Legal help and advice is available to members from the experienced trade union law firm, Thompson’s solicitors. Services include personal injury and accident compensation, criminal law, clinical negligence, free legal advice, pensions and conveyancing.
See photos from the day in the gallery below.