After the General Election

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2017 National Delegate Conference
1 January 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has inspired millions with his election campaign, and the fruit of that work was seen in the stunning election result which has stripped the Tories of any legitimacy to continue in government.

It is a result that represents a massive rejection of austerity.

Conference adds its congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and everyone who fought to get the message out about the “For the Many, Not the Few” Labour manifesto.

Corbyn has defied all those across the mainstream press who sought to smear and denigrate him. He has defied all those who said he was not fit to lead.

He has shown the anti-austerity policies are hugely popular and that millions are looking for an alternative. The Labour manifesto contained many of UNISON’s policies aimed at improving the lives of the majority of people.

Increased campaigning such as the 200,000 strong NHS demo in March 2017, protests around schools funding, housing and more has been a vital component in creating an anti-austerity mood.

Conference notes that the aftermath of the General Election has seen the Conservative Party enter talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

This means that one party (the DUP) to the current Stormont negotiations has considerable influence over the future of Northern Ireland government. This arrangement could negatively impact on equality and human rights, such as women’s rights, workers’ rights, marriage equality and the delivery of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. Negotiations on EU Exit are continuing with a party that does not reflect the outcome of the EU referendum in Northern Ireland. The UK government is also in danger of breaching its obligations as a co-guarantor of the peace agreement, and opening itself up to allegations of partiality at the very time when it should be ensuring that a level playing field on which all parties can come together to restore devolution at Stormont. UNISON believes that should the DUP succeed in securing better investment in infrastructure in Northern Ireland, it cannot come at the price of more regression on the core equality and human rights commitments or the principle of genuine power sharing through devolved government within the peace agreement.

Whilst talks continue health, social care and local government, the front line services our members need and provide, continue to be starved of funds. Conference notes that in this election campaign Labour, and other parties, were able to highlight the way the Tories have threatened our safety and security by their callous cutting of resources to our police services, backed by detailed UNISON analysis.

Living standards of working people continue to stagnate, and public sector pay caps mean that our members have seen wages fall while inflation increases. The Institute for Fiscal Studies have declared this the worst decade for living standards since the Second World War.

Conference believes that the Tories continue to have no real plan to deal with the exit from the EU or our economy.

The only strategy the Tories have shown is to move the UK toward a low corporate tax economy where public services, health, housing, job prospects for young people and students remain entirely stagnant.

Conference believes that our most urgent task must be to oppose the imposition of an unelected right-wing government and to struggle for a Labour Government standing on the type of policies contained within the recent manifesto.

Conference further believes that this task would be made more achievable by the unity of the labour and trade union movement against austerity and racism, and by the practical demonstration of solidarity in support of working class communities nationwide.

Conference believes that the fight for a Labour government at Westminster is only half won. The resources of this union were strategically deployed in the election campaign to ensure maximum impact, and we need to ensure that momentum that we built continues. Our ‘Public Service Champions’ campaign must continue and conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Campaign with Labour, through Labour Link, on their popular nationalisation plans and an end to the privatization culture;

2)Continue to work through the TUC, WTUC, STUC and ICTU to oppose austerity;

3)To use the hung parliament to campaign for fair funding for public services through progressive taxation and reversing corporation tax cuts, as well as the campaign for a Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions, to invest in rebuilding public services;

4)Take advantage of the recognition that all parliamentary candidates found on the door step that the punitive public sector pay cap was unpopular and a real living wage was desired;

5)Fight to ensure that the ‘Labour Law Manifesto’ of the Institute of Employment Rights to boost collective bargaining across the economy, tackle wage inequality and regional pay disparities is highlighted;

6)Note that the housing crisis motivated voter engagement and to campaign to ensure funding for local authority and housing association building programs providing homes for rent and reform the private rented sector;

7)Note the fantastic level of youth participation and continue to campaign against tuition fees and to also reverse further education funding cuts;

8)Continue to support an ethical foreign policy and an end to the waste of resources on Trident replacement;

9)Work through Labour Link and the General Political Fund to build a consensus that the alternative policies that we promote, and that are reflected in the Labour Party manifesto, are the best way of rebuilding our country;

10)Promote our Public Service Champions campaign, highlighting the value of our public services and public service workers, using our communications and advertising strategically to support these policies;

11)Support our branches, regions, SOGs and service groups in their campaigns against cuts and the pay cap, coordinating our activity wherever possible;

12)Prepare for a second general election in 2017.

Conference further calls upon:

a)The National Executive Council Service Group Liaison Committee to review our campaign against Tory public sector pay restraint with a view to taking advantage of Tory government’s weakness and coordinating across service groups, where possible, a stronger response given the new circumstances, including a consideration of the possibility of industrial action within UNISON’s rules;

b)UNISON to immediately call and plan for a joint trade union/ TUC national demonstration in support of the policies outlined in the Labour manifesto – such as:

i)An end to the Tories’ proposed £22billion in NHS Cuts;

ii)An end to the public sector pay cap;

iii)The building of one million affordable homes;

iv)The abolition of tuition fees;

v)Abolishing zero hour contracts;

vi)Stopping cuts to school funding;

vii)Decent funding for social care that is not based on a “Dementia Tax”;

viii)The repealing of all anti-union laws;

ix)An ending of arms sales to Saudi Arabia;

x)10,000 more police on the streets;

xi)Reverse cuts;

xii)A £10/hour minimum wage;

xiii)The removal of Employment Tribunal Fees.

Conference further calls upon the National Executive Council to immediately contact other public sector unions to plan a co-ordinated campaign to break the 1% pay cap.