A good start Ed – but much more to be done

A good start Ed - but much more to be done

22 September 2013

By Jennie Formby, Unite political director

It’s Labour conference 2013 and people are gathering. Under the old electoral cycle this conference would have been the last before a general election but in a bout of political manoeuvring, the fixed term parliament was brought in to hold the Tories and Liberal Democrats together.

In any event this is an important conference as the countdown continues to 2015 when we’ll get the chance to throw out this cynical, mean minded coalition government and put Labour back in power.

Ed Miliband has already announced the end of the hated bedroom tax, and Unite welcomes its scrapping. A worst, hard hearted policy it is hard to imagine. But if he didn't wait to make this announcement in his leader's speech, does that mean there are other major announcements to come?

Over recent days he’s pledged to crack down on zero hours contracts, to tackle bogus self-employment and he’s now talked about the importance of strengthening the minimum wage and exploring how it could be raised in some sectors.

But a fair, living wage for all, in the private as well as the public sector, must continue to be our objective.

And if we’re to begin the fight back for working people, we need strong trade unions.  Individual rights at work are important; we cannot tolerate a society where people treated unfairly at work are priced out of justice by tribunal fees.  

But we need more than individual rights; we cannot restore fairness without strong unions able to be the collective voice for millions of working people. Trade unions engaged in collective bargaining both strengthen our economy and protect the most vulnerable workers, creating a level playing field to end exploitation and the race to the bottom on terms and conditions.

The wish list goes on, from investment in a massive house building programme to create jobs and build homes; to committing to keep our Royal Mail in public hands; to taking back the NHS and driving out the private providers whose only motive is profit.

With a platform of radical policies, Labour can offer a real alternative and give hope to millions whose lives have been blighted by Tory cuts, low pay and crumbling communities.

That’s what our Unite delegates will be arguing for at conference this year; we’ll be blogging throughout the week with updates as things happen.

What do you think?  Email us at or tweet @UnitePolitics.