UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Live from Bloomsbury.........Miliband speaks

The flash bulbs have started, #TUC11 so the Leader of the Labour Party must be in the room. It would be nice to report a hushed expectancy. There isn’t one. There is a less than riveting introduction from Leahy. The man is on.

“Tony came ten years ago and didn’t deliver because of 9-11. Let us remember them.

I’m proud to be here today, proud to be among you - the back bone of Britain. People like Sodexo dinner ladies, with dreadful conditions, struggling to make ends meet on zero hours contracts. What chance do low paid women have? But UNISON organised them and they won - they deserve our applause. Vauxhall workers were under threat - but made some sacrifices with management and saved their jobs.

Just two examples often forgotten about. As labour leader trade unions deserve credit. Independent trade unions are vital and why I will resist any attempt to break the Link-3 million members should feel part of the party, and non party trade union members should be encouraged.

We may disagree but we are strong enough to disagree, because we have shared values.

Do we modernise or die. We need to change our economy to suit the hardworking people of this country? Do we carry on as we are or do we change our economy? Living standards are falling, as the economy is based on low pay for many.

We have to challenge the assumptions on which economic policy is based. Financial services can’t be the be all and end all. Jobs must be decent jobs but inequality must be tackled. This is a big challenge.

There needs to be a plan B. British economy is flat on its back- but what does Osborne say - Britain is a safe haven - while business fail and families suffer. You can’t cut your way out of a deficit. In government we worked with trade unions to reform pensions that’s the way forward. Not announcement about increases. Meaningful negotiations over the autumn are the way forward and strikes in the summer were not helpful.
While families suffer Osborne is concerned with tax cuts for the wealthiest .But tax credits are cut and families are suffering. If people are avoiding taxes, it’s your job to stop them.

Tories are increasing insecurity, making it easier to sack people, but there is an alternative. Tax cuts for the majority - Cut VAT- tax the banker’s bonuses and put the money into investment.
Tories need to show international leadership to put the economy internationally to rights.

Short term share holder interest can’t be the way forward and short term fast buck solutions must be rejected. Partnership with Business and the workforce will be the way forward for the future - companies like Bombardier.

Government should get out of the way sometimes – small business can be held back.

Those at the top should pay their fair share but Labour would still be making cuts but more slowly. And some cuts won’t be reversed. Waste has to go £100m will be wasted in police reorganisation and more in the NHS reorganisation.

Business has to change as well. Banking needs to respond the needs of small businesses and rogue bankers struck off. We can’t be neutral about how firms are run- we need more and better apprenticeships. Chief executive Salaries have quadrupled while share prices stay static. Workers should be on remuneration committees.

Trade unions must raise their game to be part of that future .But the real role is as partners in the new economy not taking strike action that is an addition of failure. TU’s can be partners rather an in conflict
Decent men and women are suffering but I am in politics to achieve change. To build a country that will be ore just and more equal”.

The hall applauded politely.

RPI, defending the Labour Government Pensions deal
Miliband - Can’t promise to do anything on RPI as we don’t know where the money will come from. Hutton is a decent report. Supports Care as opposed to final salary but the government needs to negotiate properly. 3% surcharge is wrong but negotiation is the way forward..... Not strikes
(An intervention from Mary Bousted refutes the idea of meaningful negotiations)

Health and Social care- Private Sector in Education
Miliband -Will fight on the NHS tooth and Nail- it will be a free market free for all. Bad Bill that needs to be fought.

On schools – no profit motive in education- but academies and free schools should work together......
Transport –Rail Fares, Public Ownership of Rail
Miliband – East coast is working well but policy review will look at all the options public-private- other scenarios

Union/ Labour relationship- what is the role of the Labour Party- Labour TU link
Govt isn’t in the centre ground and needs to be challenged. Levy payers need to be more involved.

Trade Unions Rights / Use of Unpaid Labour / Robin Hood Tax/ Investment in broadband /response to the Riots
Miliband: TU rights – a continuing discussion between unions and Labour. Right to organise should be looked at. On internships, the country needs a living wage and opportunities for young people Labour supports Robin Hood (unequivocally for once) Investment is the way forward.

Cameron denied that young people have been denied hope and opportunity but that isn’t the case. They don’t want a commission of enquiry as they don’t want to know the truth.

Brendan closes the debate.....