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A personal tribute from general secretary Dave Prentis to our president, who passed away yesterday
Yesterday, we heard the sad news that our president Eric Roberts, a lifelong servant of our union and of those in greatest need, had died after a brief struggle with cancer.
He was the president of UNISON, but more importantly he was a loyal and true friend to so many of us.
Born in Litherland, a proud Scouser and Liverpool fan, Eric was a man who lived enough – and had stories to tell – for more than one lifetime. From fixing drums for the Beatles, to wine waiter, baker and pots and pans seller – Eric eventually found his way to London.
And one day, seeing an ambulance shooting down Oxford Street, he decided that’s what he’d like to do.
He had found his calling. For 42 years he served the London Ambulance Service with the passion and dedication for which he became well-known, and his union as branch secretary, NEC member and – this year – our president.
He was the first ambulance person to be elected as UNISON president – something that I know was a source of immense pride to Eric, his branch, his family and everyone who knew him.
Eric wasn’t someone who sought out high office. Ambition wasn’t what drove him: instead, it was an unstoppable desire – a need – to serve people and help people, to represent them and to do his best for them.
To Eric, everyone in the union and the ambulance service had a part to play – and every day he did his job to the best of his ability, and brought out the best in others at the same time.
His loyalty to this union was as unquestionable and unswerving as his love for its members.
I will miss his honesty. I will miss his infectious personality. But most of all I will miss his friendship. Eric Roberts was a good man who gave so much to so many people.
Eric said upon his election as president that UNISON was the “best union in the country”, but the truth is that Eric was the best of us.
Today, our thoughts are with his children Jack and Rhian, family, friends and colleagues, as our union mourns one of our biggest personalities, most loved friends and most powerful advocates for the values that sustain us.
Eric Roberts – I will miss you, we will all miss you.
Rest in Peace my friend.




The Institute of Employment Rights welcomes the announcement by Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, Margot James this week that Sir Ken Knight has been appointed to Chair an independent review into electronic balloting for unions.

The government was forced into conducting the review after trade unions and Labour MPs fought for the right for trade unions to use electronic balloting systems during the passing of the Trade Union Act (TUA) through parliament earlier this year.

Initially, the Tories argued that electronic systems could be open to fraudulent activity, but as it was pointed out during the debate, these are the very same systems used by the Conservative Party for their own internal elections such as that of their nominee for London mayor.

The review, and the government's response to it, will be presented to parliament by December 2017 at the latest and will investigate any security issues with electronic balloting.

Currently, trade unions are limited to using postal ballots, which are expensive to run and less effective in gaining a significant turnout to votes. This impedes trade union democracy and could now significantly weaken the ability of trade unions to fight back against unfair treatment by employers after the TUA introduced new support thresholds of a 50% turnout for industrial action ballots, and an additional 40% of support for strikes from the whole workforce (with abstentions effectively counted as 'no' votes) in many public services.

The Living Wage
The Living Wage

New living wage rates set

UNISON welcomes increases announced at start of Living Wage Week

UNISON has welcomed the increase in the living wage announced simultaneously in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Manchester as part of Living Wage Week.


The new rates are £8.45 an hour for the UK outside London and £9.75 an hour within London, to take account of the higher cost of living there.

General secretary Dave Prentis commented: "UNISON has been proud to support and campaign for the living wage from the outset.

“And the living wage has become an integral part of our own campaigning.”

New rates are the rate needed to affor a basic but decent life                

CAMPAIGN: UNISON working to achieve the living wage

DOWNLOAD: Young Workers’ Month living wage briefing

CAMPAIGN: Making Waves for a living wage in the water industry

DOWNLOAD: UNISON guide to bargaining for the living wage