Amid the biggest squeeze on incomes in generations, Sharon Graham, the leader of Unite the union, has urged the union movement to unite to defeat the threatened assault on pay and public services.

Mishandled economy

Moving composite 18 at Congress in Brighton today (Wednesday), Sharon Graham warned that the failing government was planning to make workers and communities pay for their horrific mishandling of the economy.

Warning that it is only unions who are acting to prevent a national pay cut, Sharon Graham said that in the past year, Unite has been involved over 450 disputes, winning four in five and putting £200 million into workers' wallets through pay increases.

Not this time

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, told Congress: We  must be ready. We know what they (the government) have in store for workers. They will make workers and communities pay again. We are already seeing the biggest squeeze on incomes in generations. We will not allow them to put one hand in our pocket and the other up our back. Not this time.”

Sharon Graham highlighted how co-ordinated industrial action was fundamental to ensuring that workers and their communities will not be made to pay for the government’s economic crisis. She said: “The flame flickers a new. The rebirth of the trade union movement has begun. But we must be serious about winning.

We must now begin on the road to real industrial co-ordination. Across employers. Across industries. Focussing on jobs, pay and conditions.

To do that, we must commit to the hard miles of organising, with detailed planning. There are no shortcuts.”

Industrial power

Sharon Graham issued a warning to the union movement not to be distracted by the siren voices suggesting that society’s challenges can all be resolved in Westminster. She said: We cannot abdicate our industrial power for political promises. Bad employers fear worker power, not how much money we give to Labour. Worker power. It is the power of collective organisation that is really feared. Because let's face it, if the bosses went on strike no one would notice.  But when workers do everyone notices. Because it is workers that do the work. Its workers that create the profit.”

Radical Labour

With growing calls for an early general election amid the government turmoil Sharon Graham urged Labour to be radical: “I say to Labour ‘do not stand on the sidelines playing it safe. Crossing your fingers for that to get you over the line. It won’t. Be bold, be on the side of workers. Stop apologising and stick up for workers. Because there is already a very loud voice for the rich and the business lobby, its called the Tory Party’.”


Notes to editors

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

Email: [email protected]

Unite is the UK and Ireland’s leading union fighting to protect and advance jobs, pay and conditions for members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.