If you’re a young worker and you want a job that pays a decent wage, gives you the chance to get on in life, to live independently and to enjoy your work – then you should join a trade union.
That’s what I believe, and I was delighted to hear the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, send the same message to young workers in his speech to Congress today.
And I’m glad that the Labour Party, in partnership with our unions, has so consistently supported public sector workers suffering real-terms pay cuts. Today, the government made a pathetic below-inflation offer to prison officers and police officers.
In other words, these workers will still see their bills rising more quickly that their wages. That’s not a pay rise, it’s a pay cut.
A derisory increase like this will do nothing to deal with the staffing crisis in our public services. And it worries me that the government statement says that “these pay awards will be funded within existing departmental budgets.”
Sounds to me like they’re planning to rob Peter to pay Paul.
As we warned, the government is offering less-than-half measures. They’re trying to cherry-pick among public sector workers, and to load the cost on to our already-stretched public services.
And we won’t have it. The government has insulted working people, and that’s a grave mistake to make.
Beyond the political doom and gloom, today also included one of my favourite bits of Congress: the lay reps' awards.
Reps are at the lifeblood of our movement, and I could happily give out thousands of awards recognising their hard work – though delegates might not thank me for it!
The five people we recognised today, Steve Garelick of GMB, Daphne Robins of Unite, Steven Warwick of PCS, Tony Lampey of Usdaw and Jean Rogers of Equity, are all stars of our movement.
Jean has done incredible work challenging the double discrimination faced by older women in acting. Steve has been a charismatic voice for professional drivers fighting exploitation in the gig economy.
Steven is proof positive of the contribution active young members can make to our unions. Daphne has helped 150 people in adult apprenticeships through her work as a learning rep. And Tony’s passion for health and safety in his workplace is a shining example of solidarity.
Congress is a chance for us to make major decisions for the year ahead, but it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what our movement does best, and values most.
Our people are, and will always be, our greatest strength.