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

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Labour pledge card for 2015

#lab13 With the run up to the General Election underway, the need for a strong set of values to replace the illiberal, reactionary ideology of the Con Dem Government is paramount. As yet the Labour Party has not set out a clear alternative. But trade union votes should not be taken for granted. Some of us have been here before, being told not to 'rock the boat.'

In return we were force fed New Labour, based on the Mandelsonian philosophy that we should learn to be comfortable about the very rich. Bankers loved it and the freedom was granted to capital markets that they enjoyed till the house of cards came tumbling down. As workers we saw our services privatised and our institutions PFI'd. Our terms and conditions began a spiral of decline along with our pay. No regard was paid to our collective rights as workers.

So this time there can be no silence and the boat will be rocked as much as it takes. Taking inspiration from the 1997 Labour pledge card, it's time the combined strength of the labour movement - that probably outnumbers the Labour Party about 30 to 1 in terms of membership - set out our terms of engagement; in trade union terms establish our bottom lines. So what should our non-negotiable demands be?

1. An end to austerity combined with an agenda that sets out the means and timescale for tackling inequality. That must include real measures to tackle tax avoidance and tax evasion. It might not be popular in the 'City'. It will be popular with every wage earner who has their PAYE subtracted from their wage every payday.

2. A commitment to full employment based on an active industrial policy . No more "mac jobs", zero hours contracts, false self employment and unpaid internships. These should be replaced by decent quality jobs and an investment in skills and training, backed up by investment in a further education sector brought back into the education service under democratic control.

3. An end to the unjustified and unfair pay policy that blames public sector workers for the problems caused by the banks. The return to collective bargaining based on strengthened bargaining machinery and strengthened collective rights for workers. Work should pay and those in work should not be dependent on the benefit system

4. No more talk about "strivers and skivers" but a policy designed to tackle poverty, that will see an end to food banks, children going to school hungry and an end to policies deliberately causing homelessness, while also stopping the denigration and degradation of those forced to live on benefits. 

5. A housing revolution. No more wasted housing benefit subsidising the new rentier class - the introduction of rent controls and new rights for tenants. A social house building programme through local authorities and social landlords designed to tackle the housing shortage through the provision of quality housing putting builders to work. And an end to the right to buy .