"We’ve all watched the news with horror over the last few days, as Russian tanks, soldiers and airforce surged over the Ukrainian border. Many of us had hoped and expected that the horrors of war that plagued Europe for centuries were in thing of the past, and these events evoke our collective European memories and shatter the peace we have been building together.
But amongst the widespread outrage, our general secretary Christina McAnea rightly directed our thoughts to public service workers in Ukraine to give them our support and solidarity. In the same way in this country, we saw that during the pandemic peaks it was public service workers holding society together, often at their own personal risk, so to will it be on the ground in Ukraine. Health workers tending the sick and injured, local government workers keeping the most basic services going, energy workers keeping the lights on for as long as possible.
Our thoughts must now turn to how we can offer practical solidarity to Ukrainians, and particularly to Ukrainian public service workers. UNISON has well established relationships with Ukrainian unions through our work with EPSU and PSI. We must work with them to provide whatever assistance we can to our sisters in Ukraine.
Our thoughts must also turn to those Ukrainians who have left Ukraine, many of them fleeing over the borders to neighbouring countries. We should look at what else can do as a union to support these refugees, and ensuring the UK also offers a warm welcome to them. We must also offer what practical help and solidarity we can to our own Ukrainian members who must be going through unimaginable heartache.
Solidarity with Ukrainians and their right to self determination must be sacrosanct, but also supporting peace movements in Russia. The last thing we should be doing is trying to apportion blame anywhere other than Putin and his cabal.
Russia out of Ukraine. Solidarity!"
By UNISON NEC member (& NHS Nurse) James Anthony