2018: a year in review

Pay and conditions - 31 Dec 2018

General Secretary Tim Roache looks back on a hectic and chaotic 12 months

Press Office

Press Office

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Friends, we thought last year was hectic and chaotic – looking back on 2018 we can’t say it’s been much calmer!

The world around us is in a big state of change.  Brexit will change the entire political and economic landscape of the country, but as of yet there is no agreement about exactly what will happen and the politicians are falling out in lumps. 

Could 2019 see a General Election? Who will be Prime Minister this time next year? Those with any sense have given up trying to predict what will happen!

At GMB though, we’re the exact opposite of the instability of the government. Our thousands of reps, activists and hundreds of staff have worked hard all year to make sure GMB is growing. 

When you look at some of the fantastic campaigns we’re running, it’s easy to see why. 

Get involved with GMB campaigns

In GMB Scotland the Glasgow Women’s Strike - the largest equal pay strike in the UK ever – was an absolute inspiration.  The Pay Pinch Campaign busted the Public Sector pay cap. 

We have thousands of equal pay cases against Asda after agreeing with our stores workers that ‘enough is enough’. 

Support for our Take Back the Tap campaign grows.  And we’ve launched Switched On – our plan to secure our energy future (more on that in 2019…)

A New Deal

On the TUC's New Deal march for working people in May

Our campaign on Amazon now spans the globe – from Rugeley and Milton Keynes to Europe, the USA and Australia.  And we’ve even created an interactive, online whack-a-mole style game to highlight Amazon’s warehouse working conditions in a different way.  (You can play that here: workersnotrobots.com)

We must always make sure that being a GMB member means something. To me it means being a part of a family

It’s no surprise that when we campaign, we grow as a union.  People want someone to stand up and fight for and with them, not sit back and accept the world must be as it is.  We must always make sure that being a GMB member means something.  To me it means being a part of a family, part of a fight for the very best rights at work, the right to be safe and the pride in knowing that after a decent day’s work you can look after your family, pay the bills and live a happy life. 

Our activists and reps are the absolute backbone of that – representing people day in day out, negotiating, bargaining, spotting where things just aren’t quite right and fixing them. 

Because of the work you do, more people are going home to their families safe after a day’s graft, more people have better pay, more people feel they can stand up to their bosses and say ‘no, that’s not right’.  That’s hugely powerful.  It’s greatly important. 



There is just too much great work to look back on in 2018.  What a fantastic position to be in as your General Secretary! From being on the picket in Southern, touring Tennents in Glasgow and Fergusons on the lower Clyde, meeting our members and reps in Wales and Northern Ireland, Showing Racism the Red Card – taking on a fascist on Any Questions (the radio equivalent of Question Time), standing shoulder to shoulder with Appledore workers, addressing thousands of trade unionists at the TUC demo, seeing our annual Women’s Conference flourish and the impact we are making on equality issues in our workplaces.  With all that and more, we’ve set a high bar to beat in 2019, but I know we will.

"The Glasgow Women’s Strike - the largest equal pay strike in the UK ever – was an absolute inspiration

Pictured here with Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Regional Secretary, in Glasgow

We know there will be challenges ahead in 2019.  There always have been for our movement and for working class people. 

But we’re ready. We’re ready to fight for Cammell Laird, for Bombardier and BiFab.  We’re going to campaign for social care, to unionise apprentices and continue the fight against multinationals who exploit people and communities but refuse their responsibilities – and most of all, we are going to be ready for whatever Brexit throws at us!

We know there will be challenges ahead in 2019. But we're ready.

Thank you so much for everything you have done for GMB Union and GMB members this year.  Have a wonderful festive season, and for those of you who give up your holidays to keep the lights on or care for those who need it – an extra thank you. 

I hope you get to spend some time with your loved ones as well. 

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