Give people a reason to vote Labour again

LABOUR PARTY CONFERENCE 23 SEPTEMBER 2013

 

Dave Prentis, UNISON

 

Moving composite 2. Proud to be speaking on behalf of the collective voice of half a million UNISON members, who pay into our Labour Link fund. Half a million mainly low paid public service workers. Half a million mainly low paid women.

Our people who vote Labour, now in the eye of a storm. Paying for a deficit none of them caused. Paying with their jobs. Struggling with plummetting pay, rocketing prices.

Pay packets already cut by a fifth and the only thing to look forward to – another three years of pay restraint as food, housing, energy, petrol prices go through the roof.

Wages in free fall as bankers’ bonuses shoot up by 82% in a year.

Families in our communities worried sick about their kids’  future – one million young people unemployed, a lost generation. More competition for apprenticeships than university places. Seven million people – our people – on the lowest incomes, refused access to bank accounts and credit by the  big banks

But then the hypocrisy of the very same banks, bank rolling pay day loan companies who prey on their plight, Pay day loan companies which Labour should tackle.

70% of our low paid members worried about the level of their debt, thousands trapped in pay day loans.

Millions of workers on zero hours’ contracts. Living a hand to mouth existence. Not knowing when the next pay cheque is coming. Workers without security. At the mercy of unscrupulous employers making a killing: No certainty; No dignity; No future.

Politicians of all parties talking in macro economic terms no one understands, while we in the unions witness the private anguish suffered by our people as hard working families lose their life support – their income.

Conference, it can’t go on. And only Labour can stop it: not by being diverted into internal divisive debates, but by giving people a reason to vote Labour again.

Not by tinkering and triangulation but by standing up for our people – standing up for the millions, not the millionaires.

Conference, I grow weary of hearing our people say of politicians “they’re all the same” when we in this hall know in our hearts that they are not. But conference i do understand why they say it.

And I do grow weary of being endlessly asked: “Where’s Labour?’

When I know our people just want to hear from someone who is on their side: a political party which understands what they’re going through.

Millions would be rallied, lifted, by a clear labour promise to do something for the 5 million people in Britain – 1 in 5 of all workers – paid less than a living wage.

What is so wrong with a clear unambiguous Labour promise to turn a statutory minimum wage into a living wage? 

Millions would be rallied, lifted by a clear, unambiguous promise by Labour to really “make work pay” by targeting unscrupulous employers who pay poverty wages.

Raising up our people with a Labour promise to end workers being sold off on the altar of privatisation. Ending the competition and market madness in our public services.

But more than anything our people need hope.  They need to know now that, when elected, our party will end the pay cap, which has blighted so many lives.

It’s not rocket science – if this is the cost of living conference, then the pay freeze must end. No ifs, no buts – a clear commitment to end the Tory pay freeze.

 

Conference, we in this hall know Labour makes a difference… but our people in our communities have to believe it too. Millions hate this coalition but still believe there is no alternative. 

We have to be bold – more than PR machine worried about the headlines in The Sun. If we are bold, we will give people hope.

Our people need to hear a clear and loud message from this conference that Labour values them. And their trade unions.

That together, we’re on their side. 

That we will raise living standards, tackle poverty pay, deal with unscrupulous employers, and end bargain basement outsourcing and the privatisation of our vital public services.

A message that we’ll stand up for them.

A message that we reject Tory Britain.

That Labour is prepared to fight for a future that works.

Conference, let’s pass Composite 2 today and let’s shout from the rooftops  that Labour stands for fair pay, that Labour will end the six year pay freeze which is destroying so many families – a rallying cry that will leave our people in no doubt that their political party is brave, is bold and will be back in power in 2015.

I  move.