Ian Lawrence said “collectivism is our strength” in the fight to protect jobs, professionalism and the union he described as “proud and tenacious” during his address to conference.
Acknowledging that there would be some “stark choices” to be made in times ahead, the general secretary warned that while strike action could not be ruled out, increased membership density would be needed for maximum impact.
Job cuts and the government’s “pernicious decision” to end check-off have both led to a reduction in members. The union was able to obtain a 75% direct debit sign up rate across NPS membership, but Mr Lawrence urged for people to “come back to the union and give us the strength we need.”
Applauding the members who “stood united” during times of adversity, Mr Lawrence said it was time to step up the campaign to defend the professional values and standards of all members.
“The most effective strategy that we must and will deploy is to rebuild the concept of workplace trade unionism where our members can gain the confidence from each other to maintain and strengthen our efforts to make Napo the true voice of your profession,” he said.
Referencing an up-coming debate on a new collective agreement Mr Lawrence said: “There are many employers that are ready to walk away tomorrow from any notion of organised bargaining. Then there is the majority who will see the sense in retaining a structure for single table bargaining.
“Whatever you decide, unless we increase our membership density, we won’t be negotiating from a position of strength.”
Ending his presentation of the annual report, Mr Lawrence said: “Let me say how privileged and proud I am to be tasked with helping to lead Napo during these difficult times.
“Let nobody be in any doubt that we face many tests over the coming months, and still a potential threat to our survival. But I hope that Napo members continue to respond to those challenges by continuing to demonstrate their resolve to defend and develop this union and maintain its position as the respected and independent voice of reason and tolerance in what is a conflict ridden world.”