by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Clare Williams of Northern region told the hall that the government’s austerity policies were affecting the most vulnerable in society – and that the UK was experiencing the biggest rise in poverty in decades.
"The gap between rich and poor is widening on a daily basis," she said.
A recent Oxfam report has stated that by 2016 the top 1% of society would possess more than 50% of the world’s wealth.
And the latest annual report by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation has highlighted that insecure, low-paid jobs are leaving record numbers of working families in poverty. Two-thirds of people who found work in the past year have taken jobs for less than the living wage.
Ms Williams said that unemployment in the north east was at 7.5%. Around a quarter of the children in the region were living in poverty.
Josie Bird of the NEC said that inequality was "impacting on our members, their families, their quality of life. It’s affecting my children and the society they are growing up in."
It was agreed that trade unions had a central role to play in tackling inequality.
Conference called on the union to:
engage with politicians, academics and economists to tackle growing inequality and rebalance the economy to deliver real social mobility and a fair distribution of wealth;
campaign for decent living standards, through measures to support the unemployed, especially the young, prevent homelessness and lift people out of poverty;
continue to campaign to establish the living wage as the national minimum wage;
continue to campaign for local authorities to sign up to the ethical care charter.
I hardly think that it comes as a great surprise to anyone who has not spent the last couple of years on the other side of the Moon that the gap between rich and poor is widening. The problem is though that even, it would appear, the trade unions in this country – and elsewhere – have lost the plot and are far too much tied into the matrix to actually be prepared to mention proper socialism.
The language used in the call by conference to the Union is that of the matrix as can be seen in terms such as “real social mobility” and it is all the same as being used by the light-blue Tory party, that once regarded itself to be the Labour Party, the party of the working class.
It is no surprise that working people are getting disillusioned with both the Labour Party and the Trade Unions when they hear such waffle all the times from those that are supposed to lead the workers in the class struggle. Oh, I forgot, that is what the unions and the Labour Party have abandoned in order to be socially acceptable and presentable in the circles in which they like to move.
The leadership of the working class, the Labour Party and the very Unions that actually created the party, have become so removed from the grassroots of the working class and from the day-to-day concerns of the working people that it is no longer funny at all. It would appear that it is time that the working class has new true leadership and was led forward to its true destiny by people who really care about the plight of the workers and not by people who most of the time sit in ivory towers or who even may have been born with a silver spoon in the mouth, with one exception and that being the late Tony Benn and Jack Crowe. The former was born with a silver spoon in the mouth but abandoned all for the working class and the latter was a true working class man and hero.
We shall have some discussions with the rich to ask them to drop a couple of more crumbs from their richly laden tables down to the workers says Unison. And that is supposed to make everyone happy and jump up and down with joy? I think not.
Only when the workers own the means of production – note, I say the workers own the means of production, the workers, not the state – and are in charge of their own communities, only then will there be an end to inequality and poverty. Only then will there be enough for everyone's need, though not for everyone's greed, as the greed will have to be nipped in the bud. Crumbs from the rich man's table is not what the workers need and want but it would appear that the Unions have gone too deep into bed with the class enemy to still be able to understand that. Some of the leaders of the Unions still do but their number is very small indeed.
Time for a real change and the change means a total change of system, not tinkering around at the edges and promising workers a few more little crumbs from the capitalist's table.