Supporting a motion on corporate governance reform, Unite delegate Philippa Marsden told the Labour Party conference that the union’s members are facing a “scourge of bandit capitalism”.
Marsden said Unite members across the private sector, from car plants, building sites, leisure centres and airports to supermarkets and hotels are being mistreated by bosses obsessed with cutting corners and short term profits.
She said, “When our members in bus garages and airports are poisoned at work by toxic air that is bandit capitalism. When restaurant and hotel workers have their tips stolen, and toil on zero hours contracts that is bandit capitalism.
“When construction companies blacklist our activists, ruining lives, that is bandit capitalism. When asset strippers seize control of our members companies, closing factories and offshoring work, that is bandit capitalism.”
Marsden pointed to the most recent example of greedy and reckless fat cats running firms and livelihoods into the ground as vulture capitalists benefit from the chaos.
“And this week when hedge funds bet against our members in Thomas Cook, and directors line their pockets as the company fails, that is bandit capitalism,” she said.
Marsden went on to remind the conference of the Carillion disaster, describing the failed firm’s bosses as “the biggest bandits of all”.
“It is now over 600 days since Carillion collapsed a company that unsustainably expanded by hoovering up our public services, undercutting and slashing pay. The hospitals they promised are still unfinished, thousands of jobs have been lost and supply chain businesses gone to the wall costing the public sector millions,” Marsden said.
“To this date not one Carillion director has been held to account. No one has been arrested, not one has been charged. That is why we are saying no more to business as usual – change must come. We need a new economic model.”
Marsden told delegates that business culture of short-termism, asset stripping and value extraction must change if the economy is to be reshaped.
“We need to put ordinary working people at the helm of our economy rather than a privileged few. Workers on boards, higher wages, shorter hours and our voice front and centre through strong unions, worker’s rights and sectoral collective bargaining,” she said.
“Our visionary 2017 manifesto showed that only a Jeremy Corbyn led Labour government will bring about the change the country needs.
Let’s make it happen.”