Conference continues debate on the cost of living

Three motions on the issue were debated on Friday morning – including the effect on Black workers and renters

UNISON NDC Conference 2023

National delegate conference turned its attention to the cost of living on Friday morning.

Conference debated a trio of motions on the issue: the first calling on the NEC to continue to prioritise campaigns on the issue; the second highlighting the compound effect of the crisis on private renters and the third on the disproportionate effect of the crisis on Black workers due to the ethnicity pay gap.

Moving the first motion, Yvonne Green told conference, “Public sector workers are worried about how they’ll pay their bills.”

Tina Roach warned that “the threat of poverty is as real today as it has ever been. The level of household debt currently exceeds two trillion pounds and is rising.

“Conference, as a nation, we should be eradicating poverty. It’s a disgrace [that we’re not].”

One speaker noted how the union’s new cost of living film which was shown earlier in the conference helps bring the crisis into “sharp relief.”

Speaking on the second motion, Rosita Ellis, SE regional convenor said “the ramifications of poor housing extend far beyond our members. Estimates suggest poor housing costs the NHS £1.4bn a year.

“Regrettably these issues are not confined to the private sector but also apply to social housing.”

The motion called on the NEC to campaign for Section 21 no-fault evictions to be abolished, to campaign for a fair rent system and, among other things, to affiliate to Generation Rent and publicise the organisation’s campaigns to the union’s members.

The third of the set of motions was on the ‘ethnicity pay gap’, with the mover noting that: “If this is going to be a priority in the Year of Black Workers, branches need training and advice on how to negotiate with the employer.

“Training on how to secure the best practice on analysing and reporting the ethnic pay gap and getting the employer to take positive steps to reduce the gap.”

Hugo Pierre added, in debate on an amendment to the motion: “This NEC gives its backing to the Year of Black Workers, and urges all service groups, self-organised groups, regions and most importantly branches to actively engage.

“This amendment seeks to ask you to act, and not to wait. We don’t have to wait for the next general election and a Labour government to get the ethnicity pay gap down, we should be negotiating with councils that this is a part of their work.”

All three motions carried.