‘I will be with you on the picket lines’ vows Dave Prentis

General secretary backs Birmingham strikers as he speaks to ‘the biggest gathering of women trade unionists in this country’

Dave Prentis stands at rostrum addressing UNISON women's conference

General secretary Dave Prentis reiterated  support for striking  homecare workers in Birmingham when he spoke to UNISON’s women’s conference in Liverpool this afternoon.

“Our homecare workers in Birmingham have the full support of myself and the national union,” he declared.

And he had a direct message for the striking workers: “I will personally come up to Birmingham to be with you on the picket lines. You will not be alone. “

Mr Prentis noted that he was at “the biggest gathering of women trade unionists in this country.”

Noting the MeToo movement tackling sexual harassment in the UK and elsewhere, he said: “Everyone in this room knows the challenges we face. And there is one in particular that we cannot ignore.

“In recent months, a lid has been lifted on a sordid and seedy world:  One we hoped we’d left behind, where rich and powerful men see women as objects, playthings, pawns in their quest for control.

“From the dressing rooms of Hollywood to the corridors of Westminster – horrific tales of abuse, exploitation denigration.

“To the sexists, the bigots, the bullies: we say your time is up.”

Mr Prentis also spoke of the collapse of public service outsourcing company Carillion

He noted that, less than a mile from the conference venue in Liverpool’s docks, “the new Royal Liverpool hospital lies abandoned and unfinished. The gates are padlocked, workers unpaid, apprentices sacked, with the collapse of Carillion.

He said the company had been “ reckless, greedy, dangerous organisation driven solely by profit,” leaving “a trail of damage, debt and failure.

“Our union has always been opposed to privatisation, outsourcing and the whole PFI agenda.”

Mr Prentis went on to list the many female MPs who are, or have been, UNISON members, and encouraged women in the audience to stand for Parliament.

“In the months and years ahead, we will add more names to that list,” he pledged: “Names in this room today – more UNISON women in the corridors of power.”