UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis’s Labour Party conference speech

At the outset, let me make one thing clear. As the election approaches, UNISON is on side.

We are Labour, working tirelessly in the marginals. For the past year, funding local organisers, winning support, not for a party of business, not for a party of the middle, but for our Labour Party. And yes, we must stand up for the squeezed middle who have lost so much.

But so have our roots, our betrayed base. The people inspired by Keir Hardie, the people Nye Bevan believed in. Our men who fought in the trenches, our women who drove the ploughs. People from our roots sacrificing so much for a fairer society.

But now, in 2014, governed by a coalition that is ridiculing their sacrifice, our members who bore the brunt of recession now bearing the brunt of recovery.

How did it happen?

How did our people, already struggling, become the scapegoats for financial mismanagement? Our base, betrayed by privatisation. Betrayed by the very people who crashed our economy, suffering a five year pay freeze. A period in which their pay has fallen in value by over one fifth.

Zero hour contracts tripling in one year. A minimum wage which needs to be turned into a Living Wage, not in six years time but now.

Our people are suffering now. In the 21st century, hard working people are having to make absolutely appalling choices.

Whether to buy food or keep warm in the clutches of pay day loan companies and yet this coalition boasts that the economy is growing by over 3% but claims

there is no more money for our members. Where’s the money going?

Because our health workers, our local community workers, our care workers, mainly low paid women are still bearing the brunt

And that’s why, while employers refuse to negotiate, we are moving to strike next month across local government, schools, our NHS.

Major TUC demonstrations in London and Glasgow on 18 October.

Our unions standing up for our roots. And conference, we expect our Labour movement, our Labour party, our political leadership to support us when our members tack action.

Conference, our party is returning. It turned a corner at Milton Keynes. Genuine commitments were made to support the Living Wage, to end the abuse of zero hours contracts, to respect pay review body awards, to repeal the Health Act committing Labour to Nye Bevan’s NHS, real progress.

And we will work together to achieve these things.

But we also need a Labour vision of how we are going to support the millions who have seen their pay fall.

How women in work are going to be treated as equals?

We need to know how our base, ‘our roots’, will cease to be the victims of globalisation. How can we stop the free trade talks destroying our public services, our collective agreements?

We need to know how we will stop the rich and powerful monopolising the fruits of recovery. Our UNISON delegation, we are clear on our vision.

Workers across public services earning a decent wage, accountable, democratic local Government, dignity for the elderly and the disadvantaged. A Labour Party restoring our roots, our soul. It’s simple.

It’s time to remember why we are here, what we stand for, who we represent.

Ed, every member of our delegation is here for you.  Here to give you our support. Already playing their part in achieving a Labour victory we all crave.

But they also need to know that you are here for us. For our people, for our roots, who have suffered so much, too much.

There have been enough sacrifices. It’s time to show us your vision, demonstrate your support and let our Labour Party work together for our betrayed base.