It was great to be in Liverpool today, to stand shoulder to shoulder with striking care workers from Alternative Futures Group. Across the North West, these workers are striking against cuts to their pay – which is already far lower than they deserve.
It’s clear from speaking to them today and previously that the AFG strikers have received incredible support from their communities and from across our union and our movement. That support was out in force today, as each speaker and everyone attending the rally spoke with one voice against this injustice.
MPs Laura Smith and Alison McGovern continued to give their steadfast support – as I know they have in Parliament and in their constituencies. Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson reminded us once again that Labour councils don’t want to see these vicious and unnecessary attacks on low-paid workers. Paula Barker, our regional convenor, spoke passionately on behalf of all UNISON members in the North West. And Mark, himself a striking care worker, wove poetry and conviction together to show the real steel that’s at the heart of this dispute.
The fight against pay cuts at AFG is vital for our union. It’s about dignity and respect – vital in care but all too often denied to those who deliver it. It’s about showing, once again, that employers who pick on low-paid workers underestimate their collective strength. And it’s about showing that our union will never accept attacks on “sleep in” pay – sleep ins are work, and these workers deserve proper pay for the hard and often difficult work they do.
This is a fight that I know we can and will win. These workers are united and their strike action is strong. Now it’s up to AFG to pay them what they’re owed.