“Amplifying working people’s political voices has never been more important than now, at a time when the government is waging an underhanded assault on our most fundamental rights.”Amy Jackson, Director of Executive Policy, Unite the Union.
Speaking up for working people across the country and leading the front-line resistance against the Tories, Unite members are show what is possible when you take a stand – writes Amy Jackson, Unite Director of Executive Policy.
Even at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil, Unite members are fighting — and winning — in workplaces across the country.
Go North West bus drivers decisively vanquished fire and rehire attacks in May in Unite’s longest strike in its history, with the company promising never to use fire and rehire contracts again. Earlier this month, Great Bear lorry drivers on a Unilever contract secured an astonishing 12 per cent pay rise thanks to a strong, organised Unite workforce.
Also this month, poultry workers at a 2Sisters factory in Deesside secured a pay deal unheard of in a sector dominated by low pay. The pay deal comes after newly recruited Unite reps, migrant workers, increased membership by more than 600 in less than a year.
These successes show that Unite members fight back. It is vital that we take that fighting spirit into the political arena as well, so we can make change in the places of power.
So it may come as no surprise that our recent campaign to recruit ‘CLP delegates’ – Unite reps as we call them – to take part in their local Labour parties has been a resounding success. We had an incredible response with over 4300 Unite members signing up — an increase of 70 per cent! This shows there is a huge appetite amongst our members to get involved in politics and have their voices heard.
Amplifying working people’s political voices has never been more important than now, at a time when the government is waging an underhanded assault on our most fundamental rights. From disenfranchising millions of voters through new proposed voter ID laws to curtailing the right to protest under the police and crime bill, the Tories will stop at nothing to take power away from ordinary people.
They constantly talk about levelling up, investing in jobs, yet they won’t lift a finger to help working people when it counts. They refuse to outlaw fire and rehire, they refuse to invest in sites like GKN to save 500 decent, well-paid jobs, and they refused to increase sick pay from a measly £96 a week in the middle of a pandemic. The Tories are all talk, and we will do everything in our power to expose their empty words.
Grassroots participation in CLPs is also vital for the future of the Labour Party itself. We know that the only way Labour is going to win an election is with a bold economic offer, shifting wealth back into the hands of those who create it – working people.
Labour’s vote share has been in decline since 1997, with the exception of 2017, when we bucked the trend and won 40% of the vote – with just 700,000 fewer votes than Blair won in 1997. Polling has consistently shown that Labour’s policies in 2017 had overwhelming support from the public, and we will be working with Unite reps to get those policies back on the table through campaigning in CLPs.
While we know that Labour is the only party for working people, it is also undeniable that Labour has been struggling to retain its support. By working with Unite members in their local Labour Parties, the Party has an opportunity to reconnect with working people, and must listen carefully to the issues our members bring to the table. Winning power again is only possible with a Labour Party reflects the beliefs and values of the people it was set up to represent, and fights on the issues that matter to them.
- Amy Jackson is the Director of Executive Policy for Unite.
- You can contact your MP and tell them to End Fire and Rehire here.