Disastrous economic policies are dividing Britain and destroying hopes of recovery, the leader of the country’s biggest union stated today (Monday 8 September 2014).
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, called for collective bargaining to be reintroduced to arrest the decades long fall in the value of wages, and give workers a fairer share of the wealth they create.
He warned that over the past 40 years collective bargaining has fallen from covering 80 per cent of the workforce to just 20 per cent today, leaving millions of workers at the mercy of employers who are only prepared to pay poverty wages.
Speaking in the debate on the new economy at the Trades Union Congress in Liverpool, Len McCluskey said: “It was a Tory – Benjamin Disraeli – who said that Britain was two nations. He would certainly feel right at home today.
“Workers in our country are today facing the longest drop in their living standards since the 1870s when Disraeli was prime minister. But to be fair to him – he saw the class divisions in Britain as a problem to be solved. His Conservative successor in Number 10 seems to rejoice in them.
“Because every measure David Cameron and George Osborne take is designed to increase the squeeze on workers’ living standards and widen the already scandalous inequality gap.
“David Cameron used to talk of the Big Society. The truth is he’s created Two Societies – a society of Bullingdon Bullies, country suppers with Rebekah Brooks, tax cuts for the rich, a society which is a happy home for the hedge fund managers who fund the Tory party.
“That’s not so much the Big Society, more like the Greedy Pig Society.
“On the other hand there’s a society of people in fear – fear of losing their jobs or their homes, fear of paying the heating bills, fear over the future of the National Health Service, where the government strips away any protection the poorest can still cling to.
“The Tories will tell you that it’s all going to come right – that after six lost years for the economy we will all feel the benefits soon. But the truth is that trickle down has dried up.
“For the first time in anyone’s memory we have an economy which is apparently growing – while living standards for ordinary people are still falling.
“To misquote another famous Tory: ‘Never, in the field of human economics, has so much been produced by so many to the benefit of so few’.
“We need a social rebalancing and only trade unions can deliver that – because all the power is on one side of the negotiating table.
“Most economists now recognise that this is the biggest structural obstacle to sustainable growth in a modern economy.
“Collective bargaining can ensure that workers get back more of the wealth they produce. Trade unions stand for the productive economy and the people who are the real wealth-creators. In Downing Street they represent only the parasites.”
For further information please contact Pauline Doyle on 07976 832 861 or Shaun Noble on 07768 693 940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.