GMB members are the heroes getting us through this crisis

24 Apr 2020

GMB General Secretary Tim Roache writes on what our union has been working on over the last week to help our members

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I’m writing this, the day after an amazing GMB double whammy on social care.

Yesterday we held our first ever virtual rally organised by a number of amazing women across our union – it’s great to see our National Section, led by Rehana Azam, working hand in hand with our regions.

Well done to everyone involved but a shout out especially to Natalie Grayson, who was instrumental in making it happen and, of course, our amazing care workers who shared their stories.

From a 7pm rally to an 8pm Clap for Carers we went into headlining the 10 o’clock news on ITV.

Sadly, the news being covered was the stark reality for our care workers.

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While the nation may have been celebrating them just a few hours before, it showed that the majority of care workers expect people like them to die from Coronavirus, that over 40% still don’t have the PPE needed and next to no care workers have been tested.

All the while receiving low pay and worrying about taking the virus home to their families – it’s a scandal and we must keep fighting. Much of what we are campaigning on comes back to PPE – as you will know from previous blogs.

Yesterday we held our first ever virtual rally organised by a number of amazing women across our union.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary 

Over the weekend we are hoping to launch a new partnership with an organisation that matches PPE available to people who need to buy it.

Whilst the government is failing to act and to plug the huge gaps in provision, we are hearing companies say they have PPE in stock or could turn their hands to making it, so we’re going to try and link those people together. Watch this space.

Behind the scenes this week, we have had TUC General Council, where we discussed the crisis but also what the economy will look like on the other side of it and what intervention is needed.

In everything from public services through to manufacturing, tourism and hospitality to higher education there are huge potential consequences of lock down for every single area of our society.

Austerity will not be the answer.

This is what has made the crisis even harder to deal with because our services and local government were already starved of resources and at breaking point – austerity failed us in so many ways, it is not the answer.

What’s clear is that people will need a union more than ever – make sure your friends, family and colleagues are joined up.

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While we’re focused on our response to the crisis, our usual bread and butter work as a trade union continues.

Our local government team are working hard in negotiations on pay and looking at how we could conduct a consultative ballot (if we have to) under lock down conditions and GMB Southern Region have had a fantastic win at ISS, while our reps and officers work on getting health and safety and risk assessments of workplaces to make sure members are safe.

Every day, I hear more stories about how our members are pulling together – GMB Conwy donating branch funds to make sure COVID-19 sufferers have household essentials when they’re discharged, Yorkshire Region’s REF helping to tackle loneliness during the crisis, our friends over at TUFAC manufacturing hand sanitiser for members in our North West and Irish Region and so many branches and members donating to food banks.

Thank you each and every one of you.

Tim Roache
GMB General Secretary

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