The next Labour government will work together with workers and trade unions to rebuild the “hollowed out” local government that the Tories have left us with, Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, told delegates at UNISON’s local government conference.
The shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities said: “We’re going to tilt the balance of power back to people like care workers, refuse workers and librarians. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do. We’ve written off the talent, potential and assets of most people in Britain for too long.”
As a judge in UNISON’s local champions awards, Ms Nandy praised the 900 nominees for managing to be warm, compassionate and hardworking “in a time of darkness”, while wondering how they were going to feed their own families. “I’ve watched in awe as you’ve spun gold out of thread every single day,” she said.
She said Labour was inspired by UNISON’s work on insourcing, bringing services back into local authority control. In January, Barnet council announced that it would bring 330 workers back into council employment thanks to a decade-long campaign by UNISON.
“We’ll work together see the biggest move to insourcing in a generation,” she promised.
She criticised the current government’s attitude to trade unions. “Last summer the government attempted to break strikes by bringing in agency workers. This is a shoddy and unserious government that doesn’t even have the respect for workers to bring them to the negotiating table. The problem isn’t militant workers – it’s a militant government.”
Ms Nandy added that Labour would achieve economic growth by raising living standards: “Every pound that goes into the pocket of a working person goes straight back into our economy, in contrast with the money that the rich are putting into offshore banks and tax avoidance schemes”
To applause from delegates, she added: “It’s our ambition to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”