“It was a wonderful day as always at the Big Meeting – and an honour to address the Miners’ Gala again, standing against austerity and for properly funded public services,” UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said of his trip to Durham at the weekend.
The union has been a long-time supporter and backer of the gala – “the beating heart of our trade union movement: a celebration of our trade union history, a celebration of our people, our class.”
Mr Prentis told the crowd – who braved rain to hear the speeches that are a key part of the Big Meeting – that a million jobs delivering key services have been taken from local communities across Britain.
“And while Boris Johnson bribes the rich with the promises of more tax cuts, our elderly, our frail, our vulnerable, are suffering like never before,” he added.
And for those who asked where the money would come from to pay for the essential services they need, and UNISON members want to provide, he had an answer.
“I’ll tell you where the money can be found to end austerity,” he declared: “We, here at our Big Meeting, have a message for Boris and his like.
“Tax the rich! No more handouts to the wealthy! Stop their tax abuse; close their tax havens; make every company and bank pay their fair share.”
And he reminded the assembly: “Austerity was a political choice by the rich and powerful; a Tory elite that says ‘there is no alternative’.
“We say to the Tories today: there is an alternative. Your days are numbered. It’s time for a general election.”