Jeremy Corbyn told UNISON delegates today that a Labour government would immediately repeal the Trade Union Act.
“We would go further,” the Labour leader said. “We would strengthen trade union and employment rights. We would be a government that says that trade unions are a force for good and a force for equality in our society.”
Mr Corbyn was speaking at the national delegate conference in Brighton this morning, where was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the conference hall alongside general secretary Dave Prentis – and at the conclusion of a speech in which he stressed his trade union credentials and pride at being a UNISON member.
He particularly praised union reps, branch secretaries and lay officials “who work day-in, day-out, representing people in the workplace who otherwise would not get it.
“Public services only operate because of the efficiency and effectiveness of our members and their generosity to go beyond the call of duty, day-in and day-out.”
Mr Corbyn urged delegates to vote to remain in tomorrow’s EU referendum, stressing the future of the NHS, the threat of the TTIP trade deal, environmental standards and climate change as key reasons.
“A vote to leave would put our NHS in jeopardy,” he said.
He condemned the government’s record, which has left six million people earning less than the living wage, crippling unemployment, job insecurity and a “redistribution of wealth in absolutely the wrong direction.
“Austerity is a political choice not an economic necessity,” he said. “The government freezes pay and cuts jobs, but doesn’t seem to understand the consequences.”
He said that a Labour government would introduce a “a real living wage for workers of all ages” and work to further close the gender pay gap.
And he spoke about the party’s current Workplace 2020 project, in which it is gathering views from unions and many others on what the “world of work” should look like in four years.
“We want to make sure that we develop policies that are about redistribution of wealth, but also about unlocking the talent of everyone in society,” he said.
He noted the success of the opposition, unions and others in forcing the government back on tax credits and academy schools.
“The message that comes from that is whenever we do things together, we achieve victories. And we can achieve much more. We can defeat austerity and build a better society
“To win a general election, we need to be mobilised as a movement as never before, with one agenda that’s different on the economy, and is about bringing equality to our society.”