Dear UNISON West Sussex member
I wanted to write to explain why and how the election manifesto the Labour party has launched reflects the priorities of UNISON’s members. It includes a range of commitments that will end austerity for good, and deliver properly funded, decent public services that work for everyone.
UNISON’s links to the Labour party are governed through its ‘Labour Link’ section and rules. The manifesto was developed over a long period of time with UNISON’s input, but was finalised at what is called the party’s ‘Clause 5′ meeting. The final text is debated and agreed before publication by a special meeting of Labour’s ruling body. UNISON has 2 delegates who attended this meeting to argue your corner, alongside our General Secretary Dave Prentis.
Here are just a few examples of where Labour has listened to UNISON members’ priorities and included manifesto commitments:
- Real public service pay rises – a guaranteed pay rise of 5% for all public service workers in the first year and real rises after that to get pay back to where it was before austerity.
- Ending and reversing privatisation – local government services will be brought back in house. There will be ‘fair wages clauses’ to ensure that those who aren’t yet brought back in house earn the proper wage for the work they’re doing.
- Proper funding for public services – UNISON members have been forced to do more with less. Under Labour, public services will get the resources they need – including a commitment to reverse the last decade of austerity for local government and more money for schools.
- Bringing academies and free schools back under local control, and funding schools properly – Labour’s manifesto reflects our call to end the fragmentation of the school system in England, by bringing free schools and academies back local authority control. Schools will also get increased funding after years of cuts.
- National Care Service – Labour will introduce a national care service, with guaranteed minimum pay and standards of care, and training for care workers. Building on UNISON’s own ethical care charter, the National Care Service will drive bad employers out of social care and put more of the sector back into public ownership.
- A real living wage for all – a rapid rise to a £10 an hour minimum wage, and tackling low-pay so that everyone earns a wage they can live on – regardless of their age.
- Making pay equality a reality – As a union with more than a million women, UNISON has been at the forefront of campaigning for pay equality. Labour will legislate to eliminate the gender pay gap by 2030, by forcing employers to take action. Labour will also extend pay gap reporting to ensure that pay disparities faced by disabled and black workers are tackled.
- Real action on housing – the largest council house building programme in decades, more housing association homes, real action to end the housing crisis – and enhanced rights for private renters.
- Paid breaks and rights at work – require breaks during shifts to be paid; and give everyone full and equal rights from day one at work, whether part-time or full-time, temporary or permanent and ending the qualifying period for basic employment rights.
- Mental health at work – set up a Royal Commission to bring health and safety legislation up to date, including on mental health.
This is just a taster of the changes that the manifesto sets out for our country, for public services and for UNISON members. It reflects how our union and branch has campaigned, how your issues have been put front and centre and how the Labour party has listened. I encourage you to read it and I commend it to you.
UNISON West Sussex
PS – the party has also announced now that it will see justice done for the WASPI women, the generation of women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age arbitrarily raised without notice. This is great news for our branch and women members as this is a campaign UNISON has supported nationally and locally in West Sussex!