Individual voices can make a difference when people’s rights are being trodden on, says Jess Belmonte
Working in the trade union function of the CSP means I come into contact with a wide range of campaigns and issues.
Some are directly concerned with CSP members, their terms and conditions in the workplace and how they are being treated or mistreated.
However our membership of the TUC means that some campaigns are focused on issues and groups of people both outside of physiotherapy and abroad.
The CSP is affiliated to a number of diverse campaigning organisations including Baby Milk Action, Stonewall and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign – many of these have no direct link with physiotherapy at all. Occasionally, this can lead members to ask why we are spending our time on issues like this.
Wouldn’t it be better to concentrate solely on the challenges facing CSP members in the UK right now?
I would have to answer this with a resounding no! The work of a trade union is based on upholding fundamental principles of fairness, dignity and protection from exploitation.
The CSP as an organisation of more than 50,000 members has a powerful voice to ensure that these rights are recognised, not just for CSP members, but for other groups suffering oppression and mistreatment. Put simply, workers’ rights are human rights.
The power of an individual should not be underestimated either.
Recently when I was feeling fed up and overwhelmed I voiced a nagging doubt in my head to a colleague.
What right did I have to campaign on issues that didn’t really affect me? Wasn’t it a bit patronising to campaign on behalf of low paid casual workers when I was lucky enough to have a secure job? And what difference would it make anyway?
I’m glad to say that recent campaigning success meant I started 2014 feeling much more positive.
Cambodian housing campaigner Yorm Bopha was released from prison in last November following an Amnesty International petition signed by more than 85,000 individuals.
Hovis was forced to reduce zero hour contracts and create new jobs in Wigan after union action that involved the whole community.
There’s so much you can do right now to speak up for those who are suffering exploitation and mistreatment both in the UK and abroad.
Some things only take a second such as sending a Tweet or signing a petition.
If you have a bit more time to spare why not join us in York on 8 March to rally against the damaging and destructive austerity policies of the Coalition government and in particular the impact on northern communities?
Whatever you can do, do it today!
Jess Belmonte is a CSP national officer, employment relations and union service
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