'Rebuild our public services' call

Unite delegate Bridie McCreesh calls for "restorative funding" to address cost-of-living crisis and years of public sector pay erosion

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Unite delegate Bridie McCreesh gave a rousing opening speech in support of funding for public services at the 155th TUC Congress on Sunday (September 10).

She told Congress that for well over a decade now, delegates’ speeches from the rostrum “have charted the ruination of our public services”.

“First, we warned of the lethal impact of austerity,” Bridie said. “Then we fought back as successive Tory governments took the knife to every vital organ of the public sector. Now we fight to repair the ruins.”

She highlighted that NHS workers across four London trusts were preparing to take strike action in the week ahead.

“Their action confronts the everyday crisis in our health service – where underfunding and low pay have caused dangerous staff shortages,” she noted.

Bridie cited a Unite survey of over 3,000 NHS workers which revealed that 48% of those polled report face staffing levels regularly reaching the point where “patient care is compromised.”

“When these NHS workers take to their picket lines, they will be joining the ongoing strike action across local authorities from Tyneside to South Wales,” she went on to say. “They will in turn be joined by the coordinated action of workers across 11 Scottish councils later this month.

“Our Congress must stand in resolute solidarity with every single striking public sector worker who fights for us all,” Bridie continued, adding that the disputes are “united in their demands for fair pay, proper funding, and an end to perpetual austerity”. 

“But it is not enough to win the funding just to end the immediate crisis,” she told Congress, explaining that Unite’s contribution to the composite calls for restorative funding.

“That means pay awards which answer the cost-of-living crisis – and make up for a decade of pay erosion,” she said. “It means investment to rebuild and reopen every decimated frontline service –from mental health support to Sure State centres.”

Urging support of the composite, she urged Congress to “commit ourselves to the rebuilding of our public services”.

The composite was carried.

By Hajera Blagg

Photo by Mark Thomas