Time for Labour to show it stands for what is right - UNISON
In his speech to Labour party conference UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, called on the party to stand up for what is right, to show its support for a future that works, and to campaign for an alternative to the coalition’s brutal austerity agenda.
He said that people wanted hope – not economic lectures – from their leaders, and called on the party to prove while in opposition that it understands the terrible impact the government’s cuts agenda is having on the lives of so many families.
Urging the party to show its support on 20 October, he said it was time for the party to do on a national level what UNISON is doing locally – building a movement that will sweep the ‘wretched coalition’ from office, and put Labour back in government
The full speech can be found below:
“Our economy is in crisis: the worst recession in 70 years; families are plunged into poverty; kids going without hot meals and winter clothes; and prices rocketing, while pay is plummeting.
“The indignity of food banks – this is Tory Britain.
“Inequality in Britain not seen since Victorian times, with loan sharks pushing pay day loans to desperate families who are sinking in a sea of debt.
“Our people suffering the longest period of falling wages since the 1920s while the wealth of the richest soars. A divided Britain of rich and poor; where inflation and a vicious pay freeze is wrecking lives.
“A new class of working poor, our people hit hardest as they look to Labour – our party – for hope.
“Conference, our fight for fair pay is with no one in this room. No one in this room is the enemy and no one in the leadership of our party gains by undermining our efforts to defend our members and their families.
“Our fight is with the Tories – that self serving elite who have never believed in fair pay – never believed in public service
“And to those who believe that driving down further the pay of public service workers will save jobs, I say you are wrong. Wrong morally and wrong economically.
“The reality is that our people have already had a 10% pay cut as wages have been frozen and the cost of food, petrol, housing has soared. And we’re still losing jobs – 700,000 of them!
“In the real world where our members - overwhelmingly low paid women – are struggling, looking for hope.
“They look to Labour in opposition to understand what they are going through. More than anything, they want hope from our leaders ¬– not economic lectures, which simply justify a Tory agenda.
“They want Labour in opposition to be in touch, to show that they are on the side of those harmed by the coalition.
“They want Labour, in opposition, to fashion an economic alternative that does not leave ordinary people in any doubt that Labour speaks and acts for them.
“Our fight with the Tories isn’t just about pay or jobs. It’s about the kind of society we leave to our children. It’s about protecting and defending the rights our grandparents fought for: our NHS, our welfare state.
“Challenging the broken ideology that says markets know best. We need our leaders to stand with us, not sit on the sidelines or piano stool.
“Times are tough; so many struggling – care workers, teaching assistants, dinner ladies – fighting to make ends meet, ordinary working people who had nothing to do with this financial crisis but who are now paying the price.
“If our members – the people we rely on to provide our public services ¬– if they decide to fight this pay freeze then both they and their union expect our political party to stand with them and support them.
“Conference, it’s time for our great party to show that it will fight for a future that works, to be there with us on 20 October in London, in Glasgow, in Belfast. To be a presence in our communities; to reject Tory Britain; to stand up for what is right; and to give hope to our people, fighting for fair pay, and against the market madness destroying our public services; to do in parliament what we are doing in towns and cities everywhere: building a movement that will sweep this wretched coalition from office and put Labour back in power once more.”