Amid the grief and hardship of the pandemic, 2020 will be remembered for everyone together out on the doorstep to celebrate our key workers.
We all knew who kept this country running through the pandemic. Not hedge fund chiefs, corporate outsourcing giants or government ministers.
But supermarket staff, delivery drivers, telecoms workers, bus drivers, social care workers, health professionals and all our key workers.
Ordinary working people stepping up to do their jobs in extraordinary times.
And yet, even as we applauded them, this government let them down.
Leaving them to struggle in services threadbare after ten years of austerity cuts, too often short staffed and with inadequate PPE. And then, adding insult to injury, freezing their pay.
So our wish for 2021 can be expressed in two short words: recover and reset.
New Year hope comes in the form of a vaccine, created by brilliant scientists and delivered by our precious NHS.
And this is the time to genuinely level up across the UK
But to do that, government must come up with a realistic plan.
The chaos has to stop.
This festive season, across much of the country, pubs and restaurants are silent, high streets deserted, theatres closed and whole sectors in limbo. We face another national lockdown.
With the new strain of the virus spreading so fast, the roll-out of the vaccine must be more comprehensive and faster too - before a real recovery is possible.
And all at a time when trade with our nearest neighbours in the EU is set to become more expensive and more bureaucratic.
Working people, and the businesses that employ them, urgently need transparency and security.
We need to know that government will do what it takes to support working families - protect the NHS, save jobs and get the economy back on its feet.
Throughout 2020’s national crisis, the UK’s trade union movement worked hard to protect livelihoods, and to support public health. We can be proud of the jobs we saved and the workplaces we made safe.
Now we must make Britain’s economic goal for 2021 full and decent employment. We cannot afford the cost of mass unemployment. It is never a price worth paying.
The chancellor must guarantee full furlough until we are through the crisis.
He must invest in good new jobs - in the green tech we need to tackle climate change and in the public services we all rely on.
And to smooth the disruption of the government’s third-rate Brexit deal, he needs to boost UK manufacturing with a £10bn recovery fund to create good new jobs.
Real recovery must mean higher living standards for working families - not just those the top. So we need to reset our country too.
Reset our labour market – banning the zero hours contracts that keep workers poor and powerless. Delivering the enhanced rights at work that ministers have long promised.
Reset raging inequality so that those with most pay their fair share, everyone earns enough to live on, no child need go hungry and public services are properly funded.
Reset regional divides – levelling up our country and bringing good jobs and investment to the parts of the country that need them most.
And government must act to end the systemic racism that harms Black and ethnic minority workers and families. Whatever our race, religion or background, all working people deserve dignity and fairness at work.
Recover and reset. That’s how we build a society that works for everyone.
In 2021, trade unions will be out there fighting for that vision, for our members, and for all working people.
I wish you, your family and workmates happiness, good health and security in 2021 and always.
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