“We are seeing workers standing up and saying no more, all the workers that are taking industrial action and those balloting for it, who would have thought Criminal Barristers would go out on strike!”
This article is a published version the speech given by Sarah Wooley, BFAWU General Secretary, at the “Johnson is gone – now is time for a New Deal for workers” Arise Festival 2022 event. You can read Sarah’s speech or watch her contribution below:
I want to start by saying if now isn’t the time for a new deal for workers, when is?
We have had 12 years of austerity, attack after attack on working people, whether that be the dismantling of the NHS and our education opportunities: the rise of academies and removal of the English Union learning fund, public services pay freezes or more accurately pay cuts. More and more hurdles for disabled people to navigate to access vital support they need and the shambles that is universal credit.
Finished off buy a global pandemic that showed the world who the key workers are, who keeps the world turning. Not the billionaires, but the Foodworkers, transport and education staff, emergency services and postal workers, the cleaners and retail staff, the list goes on and on.
All those people who for years have been told to be thankful they have a job, not to push too much for better because hundreds more would fight to replace them and for whom the profits for the elite have taken priority over their health, safety, wellbeing, terms, conditions and pay
The bosses and the government especially don’t care about the fact that many of these key workers even before the cost-of-living crisis, certainly in the food industry have been unable to put food on their tables, cover their bills, heat their homes or even get to and from work in the first place
Which is an absolute disgrace in the UK in 2022
What is inspiring through is that we are seeing workers standing up and saying no more, all the workers that are taking industrial action and those balloting for it, who would have thought Criminal Barristers would go out on strike! It just shows even they have had enough.
This is important as it is giving others the confidence to start believing they are worth more too. People who only a few years ago would have left one crap job for another are now starting to see that by standing together in solidarity change can happen and we need to grasp this opportunity with both hands.
No one least of all a Tory government is going to freely give us anything and we have to now as a movement work not only together with each other supporting each other’s actions and coordinating where possible, but with community groups like DPAC, Ron Todd Foundation, ACORN and the many other amazing likeminded organisation’s who reach far further than the trade union movement does currently to demand change to force through the new deal workers deserve
Because without that further reach, we become an ineffective echo chamber talking to each other instead of growing the movement. Drawing in people who do not know what a trade union is as there are millions of them, there are still millions who believe that Johnson has done a good job.
I will finish on this, I am not celebrating Johnson going, when he eventually does, the next one will be more focused, more cruel and more working people will die at their hands as they finish the work, he should have started but got distracted from.
There has never been a more important time to organise our workplaces and communities so we are ready for them, they will hit the ground running and we, collectively in solidarity need to make sure when they do, we are there hitting back even harder. Solidarity.
- Sarah Wooley is the General Secretary of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union (BFAWU), you can follow her on twitter here.
- Sarah was speaking at the “Johnson is gone – now is the time for a New Deal workers,” the Arise Festival session was held on July 11th, 2022. Watch the meeting in full here.
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