Blog: A great day for UNISON and public services

Today at Labour conference has been a great day for UNISON and a great day for public services.

I was proud to move the motion at today’s conference on public sector pay. Everyone working in our public services and everyone who relies on those services has suffered thanks to the government’s painful pay cap.

Today I called on the Labour Party to go further than it had gone before, not just scrapping the cap but committing to above inflation pay rises every single year under the next Labour government, until pay is back to at least pre-Tory austerity levels.

That is the very least that Labour should be calling for.

So I was delighted that Labour conference gave our position – and our Pay Up Now campaign – their full support today, unanimously supporting our motion. That means that after too many years of equivocation, Labour policy is now fully aligned with that of UNISON – real pay rises, year on year, for all public sector workers.

That was a big victory for our union, for UNISON members and for millions more working in our public services.

Yet that wasn’t the only success we had in Brighton today. Today, the Labour Party also pledged to stop using failed PFI programs, and to cancel all existing PFI contracts. That’s something I have been campaigning on for 15 years. In fact, at the 2002 Labour conference I moved the motion opposing the then Blair government’s PFI plans. Finally, after too many wasted years, vindication.

And then, in the final vote of the day, another opportunity for our union to stand up and make our mark. A vote was called to “reference back” a Labour policy document, because the commitments it made weren’t strong enough on reversing welfare cuts. Thanks to UNISON’s votes in the union section, voting with the overwhelming majority of Labour members in the hall, Labour must think again, and commit to opposing all welfare cuts. That’s what UNISON members want, and that’s what we want Labour to deliver.

Real pay rises, an end to PFI and fighting welfare cuts, that’s what UNISON achieves in Labour, working with our friend Jeremy Corbyn. Today was a good day – I hope there are more to come this week.