This region led the way nationally in getting the vote out and we can be proud of the fact that we broke through the government’s regressive and punitive threshold: it is testament to the unwillingness of our members to be bullied by a Conservative party that is proving once again to be the employers’ friend. It is also testament to the hard work of regional staff, branch reps and volunteers, and it demonstrated what can be achieved by collective action that is deployed with a strategy and purpose.
However, despite our best efforts in Yorkshire and despite the fact that the turnout was one of the highest in years, the national result fell short of the 50% threshold: the total figure was 31% of those eligible to vote did so and of these 62% voted to reject the pay offer. As this was a nationally aggregated ballot, as decided by the Service Group Executive, then we do not have a mandate for industrial action.
Needless to say this is a disappointing result, particularly after all the work put into this region. What it does show, is that branches and regions nationally are going to have to learn lessons from the methods used in this region to push us towards the threshold.
What this region and almost all of our individual Universities have proved through this ballot is that we can and will reach this threshold (however unfair it may be) should our employers come to us on local matters. This will ensure that they realise that they need to negotiate properly with their local UNISON branch whenever such issues come to the fore.
In the meantime, thank you to all of you who voted and/or volunteered your time, and of course we need to keep talking to colleagues and recruiting new members, to ensure that the union continues to grow in strength.
Nick Allen & Leonie Sharp