“Venture capitalists were feasting on the bones of austerity” and that is why UNISON stands “shoulder to shoulder with Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment to bring [public service] contracts back in-house where they belong,” Dave Prentis told delegates to the union’s Black members’ conference in Liverpool this afternoon.
At the end of the week that saw private construction and services company Carillion collapse, putting in question a wide range of public services and public service jobs, the UNISON general secretary observed that the services “should never have been privatised – we’ve always warned of this”.
In a wide-ranging speech, he also lauded Black history in the UK – a history that, just this past year, saw former UNISON president Eleanor Smith elected as an MP in what was once the Parliamentary seat of Enoch Powell.
He reminded delegates that 2018 sees the union mark 25 years since it was formed from Cohse, Nalgo and Nupe – and he urged all present to be fully involved in the celebrations.
But it was about more than just celebrating the union’s first quarter of a century – “we owe it to everyone to be even better” in the future, Mr Prentis declared.
Reminding conference that, this time last year, delegates were meeting as Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the USA, he said that it was heartening that “the racism of Trump and his supporters has been opposed every step of the way”.
To loud cheers, he declared that, “if Donald Trump ever dares to visit our country … be in no doubt, UNISON will be leading those protests”.
Noting that racism is neither history nor something that is limited to the US or elsewhere in the world, he stressed that “we cannot let it slide off our agenda.”
Whatever Brexit the UK experiences, he pledged too that UNISON will not allow migrant and Black workers to suffer and that it is crucial to spread the message that “there is a place for you in our union”.
Earlier, as business got underway, delegates were welcomed to the city by Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, the mayor of Liverpool, who earned a loud cheer straight away by holding up his own UNISON membership card.