Workers 'key part of wealth creation'

Unite leader Sharon Graham slams PM Liz Truss’ speech for failing to stand up for workers fighting for better pay

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Unite slammed prime minister Liz Truss’ speech at the Conservative Party conference today (October 5) over Truss’ failure to stand up for workers seeking wage rises amid a crippling cost of living crisis.

Instead of supporting these workers, tens of thousands of whom are taking industrial action over pay, Truss twice attacked trade unions in her speech, calling them ‘militant’ and part of a so-called ‘anti-growth coalition’.

Truss went on to highlight that the “real heroes are those who go to work, take responsibility and aspire to a better life for themselves and their family”, but failed to underscore the reality that it is these same people, trade union members, who are now fighting together with their unions to protect their livelihoods.

Commenting on the speech, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Liz Truss says she is focused on growth, but if she really wanted to help the UK economy she would be helping us get more money into the pockets of workers.

“She would not dismiss as ‘militant’ the nurses, drivers, refuse collectors, dockers and the tens of thousands of workers taking action on pay up and down the country so they can pay their bills and defend their families,” Graham added.

Truss continued to defend many of the controversial tax cuts mooted in the chancellor’s doomed mini-budget, which precipitated a historic fall in the value of the pound and sent the Bank of England scrambling to avert an all-out economic disaster.

The prime minister repeated lines she has said in media interviews in recent days over the need to grow a so-called economic ‘pie’.

But Unite general secretary Sharon Graham highlighted that economic growth that only benefits already hugely profitable companies’ bottom lines – and their shareholders — will do nothing to help the millions of families who are struggling to make ends meet in the worst cost of living crisis in generations.

“What is the point of a bigger pie, if bad bosses get to divide it?” Graham noted. “Unite is dealing with a number of profiteering companies right now who are raking it in, while trying to impose pay cuts on their workers.”

“Workers are a key part of wealth creation and they should share in it,” she went on to say. “Without unions like Unite taking a stand, more money would be in the hands of shareholders as opposed to workers. We will continue to defend workers.”

Indeed, since Graham was elected leader of Unite last August, about 76,000 of the union’s members have been involved in more than 450 disputes, which have seen a win rate of 80 per cent. In total, Unite has secured more than £150m for its members in the last year alone.

Further commenting on Liz Truss’ speech, Graham added, “In truth it is trade unions delivering for working people.  If Liz Truss thinks she can prevent us getting more money into pay packets and using all our streets to do that, she is yet again miscalculating and she will have a fight on her hands.”

By Hajera Blagg