'If we want to win, we must be prepared to strike'

Unite delegate Ruth Hayes gives impassioned speech on striking to tackle cost of living crisis

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Unite delegate Ruth Hayes told TUC conference that industrial action was the key to tackling the cost of living crisis on Tuesday (October 18).

Speaking in support of a composite on the current crisis, Ruth explained how it is “profits – not our wages – which are fuelling the cost of living crisis”.

She highlighted shocking statics which show that profits have risen by 73 per cent while “real-terms pay is falling for millions of us”.

“This rampant profiteering is responsible for nearly 60% of the inflation that is destroying lives in our communities,” Ruth noted.

She also pointed out how executive pay has risen by a “colossal 29%”.

“Let me ask you, who here has been offered a 29% pay rise?” she told conference, adding it was “not the dockers of Felixstowe or Liverpool; not the bus drivers of London or Leicester; and not one single public sector worker.”

Ruth went on to say however that stating the facts was not enough “no matter how stark”.

“It isn’t enough to point to the inequity, no matter how enraging,” she added. “It isn’t enough to talk the language of need or fairness, no matter how just.

“We must remember, power concedes nothing without demands and action.”

Ruth continued, “Yes, we can march, rally and lobby – but if we really want to win then we must be prepared to strike and to build solidarity with those taking action.”

She explained that it was only through organising, collective bargaining and strike action that members are able to secure better pay.

“Hundreds of thousands are already showing the way,” Ruth said, noting how under Unite’s general secretary Sharon Graham the union has fought and won more disputes in the last 12 months than in the last five years.

“We need an economy which meets the needs of our communities, not swells corporate profits,” Ruth concluded to applause. “That’s how we’ll end this crisis. Let us take action together to win it.”

The composite was carried.

By Hajera Blagg

Pic by Mark Thomas

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