On behalf of the Executive Committee of Solidarity I want to wish all our members and their families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As members of Solidarity the Union gather with their friends, families and loved ones this Christmas, it's right for us all to take time out to have a happy and enjoyable time. Once the festivities have subsided a bit though, we should take stock of the events of the past year and their consequences for us all in the New Year and the next few years.
The unexpected election of the Tories with a clear working majority has sparked an attack on the people David Cameron claimed to champion; hardworking families. He quickly ditched a promise not to cut tax credits to workers in low-paid jobs. He was thwarted in this attempt through the intervention of an unlikely, but unreliable ally – the members of the House of Lords including bishops of the Church of England – whose wings he now intends to clip in order to prevent any similar revolts in future.
In 2016 we are likely to be faced with a referendum on whether or not the UK remains in the European Union. Solidarity members will need to look at the issues dispassionately as part of Cameron's price for continued membership is likely to be a further erosion of workers' rights and conditions. Watch out for dubious arguments, scare tactics and fake populist appeals. There'll be al lot of them about.
At Christmas, trading standards officers warn us against buying dodgy, look-alike, imitation, or counterfeit goods. Here's a big one to look out for. Don't be fooled. George Osborne's duplicitous rebranding of a higher rate national minimum wage as the 'living wage' will not disguise the fact that British workers' rights are under attack from our own government while the Tories' financial backers and their cronies are rewarded with tax breaks (when prison sentences might be more appropriate). Solidarity backs the campaign for a real living wage and in the new year will continue to expose the limitations of Osborne's cheap knock-off 'living wage'.
Remember to renew your membership in 2016 in order to keep Solidarity fighting for you and your rights, wages and conditions. In this unpromising climate, there never has been a greater need for union protection to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Let's meet the challenges ahead together as together we are strong.
David Kerr, President