Speaking at UNISON’s annual national conference today (Friday) in Brighton, shadow secretary of state for education Angela Rayner MP said:
“I became who I am today thanks to this union. Because I wasn’t born in to the movement – I was made in it. That is why I am so proud to be back here on the 25th anniversary of Unison, celebrating our defining values that remain as relevant today as at any time in our history.
“UNISON is truly a great trade union, and a great trade union is made up of great trade unionists. We know what it is to be part of a movement. That we each do better when all of us do better. And we all do better when we work together.
“Public services, too, are at their best when they work together. But it is a lesson that the Tories don’t seem to have learned. Cuts anywhere will always impact elsewhere. They are failing the people who deserve decent care and the people who deserve decent jobs.
“The work public sector workers do saves and transforms lives. In schools, for example, I know all too well how important the teachers are. But they could not do their jobs without support staff, like the teaching assistants. They are too often forgotten.
“As a trade unionist myself, I know that our public services are better when their staff have a collective voice. That is why I want to announce today that the Labour Party will bring back genuine national pay in education. Not just for the teachers but for other educators too. We will reinstate the School Support Staff Negotiating Body.
“And we will go further. National pay settlements will apply to every school that is funded through our National Education Service. There will be no more race to the bottom in our schools, and we will end the scandal of teaching assistants on the minimum wage.
“You know, sometimes even the Tories will praise public sector workers for doing their jobs. But we will always pay you for doing your jobs. That is the difference a Labour government makes.
“When individuals succeed it is because we have collectively succeeded. It is a promise from a Labour Government to the British people. That we believe in all of them, in their talent and their potential, in all they give to our country, and that we will never limit their aspiration or their ability to succeed.
“So we will set out the education that people can expect throughout their lives. The contribution that society makes to them and that they can make to society.
“Knowledge belongs to the many, not the few. This is our historic purpose as a movement. Not just to be a voice for the voiceless. But to give them a voice of their own. That is the challenge we face. And that is the challenge we will meet, together.”