‘Working people cannot afford 12 more years of decline’

After Labour’s success at the polls last week, deputy leader Angela Rayner talks exclusively to UNISON about her upbringing and what is really needed to fix the cost of living crisis

Angela Rayner

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has declared that only Labour can help working people out of the cost of living crisis and that the response by the Conservatives has been “nothing short of insulting”.

Writing exclusively in the next issue of U, UNISON’s member magazine, Ms Rayner says: “The Conservatives are out of touch, out of ideas and out of excuses. People across Britain are worried about being able to pay their bills as prices spiral, and the Tories have no answers.

“In stark contrast,” she continues, “Labour is on your side and focused on building a better future. We are offering real solutions, right now, by offering help with squeezed budgets and rising costs – and building a vision for the workplaces of tomorrow.”

Describing her upbringing and how it has influenced her throughout her life – including leading the opposition’s current battle on the cost of living crisis, she says: “I know what it’s like struggling to make a pay cheque last until the end of the month – I grew up on a council estate and had my first baby when I was 16, starting as a home help when I left school.

“For the last 12 years, I’ve seen first-hand how the Conservatives have frozen wages, overseen widespread inequality, and increased levels of poverty.

“Working people are struggling to make ends meet, child poverty has risen sharply and in-work poverty is at a record high of one in six working households.

“A new deal for working people is needed to fix these fundamental problems.”

Ms Rayner says that a Labour government would be doing more than the current Conservative government to solve the crisis, and that her party is “determined to guarantee fair wages as well as control soaring bills”.

Arguing that Labour’s approach is about offering people real help right now, she adds: “It’s also about delivering a vision for the future of work, where working people enjoy dignity, and where those who devote themselves to delivering public services are treated with the respect they deserve.”

The MP talks honestly about the difficulties of being a single parent: “I know only too well the challenges of trying to balance work with being a good mum.

“Rather than stacking the odds against working parents, Labour will deliver stronger family-friendly rights, extending statutory maternity and paternity leave, introducing the right to bereavement leave and strengthening protections for pregnant women.”

She thanks UNISON for helping her achieve what she has since  joining the union. As one of the youngest home helps in Stockport, where she grew up, she put herself forward to be a UNISON rep and within a year was a senior steward, successfully fighting off the privatisation of the council’s home care service.

“I owe so much to UNISON and to the wider union movement, which  has become an extended family to me. I know how important unions are in offering the representation, support and training that are a lifeline to working people.

“When acting alone, workers are often denied their fair share – but backed by the collective power of colleagues and unions who provide effective representation and bargaining, we are all stronger and better off.”

She argues that current restrictions on the rights of unions to operate in the workplace “are preventing fair bargaining and holding back living standards”. Labour is committed to repealing anti-trade union legislation, such as the 2016 Trade Union Act.

Ms Rayner concludes by saying: “Today, our country is at a fork in the road – and it is Labour that has the plan to deliver change. Working people cannot afford 12 more years of decline.”

  • You can read the full article from Angela Rayner in the summer 2022 issue of U magazine, as part of a cost of living special. It will be mailed to members later this month.