I’m proud that from day one, UNISON has backed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. We were the first union to back him in 2015. We backed him again in 2016 because he has the vision to lead our party and our country – and today that faith has once again been vindicated, with the launch of Labour’s fantastic manifesto.
I said in 2017 that Labour’s manifesto could practically have been UNISON’s manifesto. That’s even more true of the manifesto Labour has launched today, which reflects the priorities of UNISON’s members – the common sense changes our country that will end austerity for good, and deliver properly funded, decent public services that work for everyone.
Crucially, this is a manifesto with UNISON’s priorities at its heart. The campaigns that you have called for and led are always at the heart of our Labour Link work – and those priorities were at the heart of the months of work we’ve put into Labour’s groundbreaking manifesto. I was proud to attend the party’s Clause V meeting on Saturday to discuss the final text that’s been announced today, and along with our Labour Party NEC members, win vital changes to the final text that make it an even better plan for the future of our country.
And credit also to our policy and political teams who worked tirelessly for over three months – often late at night –- to make sure every idea we had and every word we wanted was inserted into the draft text. Their work set the foundation for this manifesto.
I could find examples on every single page of this manifesto that have been influenced by our union – but here, in no particular order, are just a dozen examples of where our union has fought and campaigned, and Labour has listened:
- Real public service pay rises – Guaranteed pay rise of 5% for all public service workers in the first year and real rises after that to get pay back to where it was before austerity.
- Ending and reversing privatisation – local government services brought back in house and a reversal of privatisation in the NHS, including an end to “subcos” and PFI. There will be “fair wages clauses” to ensure that those who aren’t yet brought back in house earn the proper wage for the work they’re doing. And the big energy companies will be back in the hands of the people, meaning decent terms and conditions – and a critical role in greening our economy – for UNISON members in the energy sector as part of Labour’s Green New Deal.
- Proper funding for public services – UNISON members have been forced to do more with less. Under Labour, public services will get the resources they need – including £26 billion more for the NHS, a commitment to reverse the Tory decade of austerity for local government and more money for schools.
- National Care Service – Labour will introduce a national care service, with guaranteed minimum pay and standards of care, and training for care workers. Building on UNISON’s own ethical care charter, the National Care Service will drive bad employers out of social care and put more of the sector back into public ownership.
- A real living wage for all – a rapid rise to a £10 an hour minimum wage, and tackling low-pay so that everyone earns a wage they can live on – regardless of their age.
- Making pay equality a reality – As a union with more than a million women in membership, UNISON has been at the forefront of campaigning for pay equality. Labour will legislate to eliminate the gender pay gap by 2030, by forcing employers to take action. Labour will also extend pay gap reporting to ensure that pay disparities faced by disabled and Black workers are tackled.
- Scrap and replace Universal Credit – The hated Universal Credit will be ditched under Labour and replaced with a scheme that works better for our people. And the worst of Universal Credit which we’ve led campaigns against – the five week waiting period, the two child limit and the “rape clause” – will all be ditched.
- Reunifying probation, and rebuilding the whole police workforce – Labour will reunify probation into a single service, and make it local and accountable. Labour will also recruit more police officers, police community support officers and police staff.
- LGBT+ inclusive education – Properly funded mandatory LGBT+ education, meaning that our schools have the resources to deliver vital inclusive education.
- Bringing academies and free schools back under local control, and funding schools properly – Labour’s manifesto reflects our call to end the fragmentation of the school system in England, by bringing free schools and academies back local authority control. Schools will also get increased funding after years of cuts.
- Internationalism based on justice and rights – Labour’s commitments reflect our demands for justice, rights and equality globally – especially the establishment of a unit for public services which will help governments realise the right to health, education and water and sanitation for all of their citizens, not just those who can afford them. Labour will also make sure that at home and abroad corporations have to put people before profit or else face punitive consequences.
- Real action on housing – the largest council house building programme in decades, more housing association homes, real action to end the housing crisis – and enhanced rights for private renters.
This is just a taste of the changes that this manifesto promises for our country, for public services and for UNISON members. It reflects how our union has campaigned, how your issues have been put front and centre and how our party has listened. I commend this manifesto to UNISON members – because it’s a manifesto that reflects the priorities of our union. It shows why Labour is the best party for public services.
That’s why I’m campaigning for Labour, and why I’ll be proud to vote Labour on December 12th.