Unions including ASLEF, RMT, UCU, NEU and PCS are striking today for fair pay and working conditions. Norwich Labour members and councillors joined union members and supporters attended the Norfolk demonstration and march, to show solidarity with workers and support a #RightToStrike.
Although I was in Parliament today, a statement was read out by Cllr Karen Davis.
Statement read out at the Norfolk #RightToStrike demonstration – 1st February 2023
Thank you all for coming today and for standing up for yourselves, our children and public services. For that I and the city of Norwich salute and thank you!Here we are, a little more than 18 months since the end of lockdown, and the Government have gone from clapping to slapping key workers. It did not have to be this way.
In the wake of covid, the Government had a choice. They could, like the 1945 Labour Government at the end of world war two, have chosen a new path, a different path, and a new social settlement that recognised the sacrifice and efforts of key workers. They could have rewarded them by embarking on collective sectoral bargaining, and invested in rebuilding our public services and in housing after more than a decade of decay. They could have built a new social settlement, recognising the role that those workers played in that national crisis.
Instead, they chose to look to the first world war, and to the Geddes axe, when the post-war Conservative Government slashed public spending, attacked workers’ rights, and told the poor they and not the wealthy must bear the brunt of the costs of the war.
This Government’s refusal to enter into meaningful negotiations with teachers and other public sector workers puts beyond a shadow of doubt whose side this Government is on. It is certainly not the public, because public sector workers like yourselves – who are being offered a pittance of a pay rise by this Government – are the public.
You are the ones defending public services, not the Government; you are the ones fighting to stop schools from falling around our children’s ears; fighting for an education system, now so bad that 44% of you plan to leave within five years. No, you are on the right side of history and the right side of this dispute.
Like you the wider British public have had enough of being told by this Government to suck up failing privatised public services, corrupt politicians, collapsing living standards, a dying environment and a falling democracy. They have had enough of being told that there is no alternative, that politicians will always be caught on the take, that the rich and powerful will always be able to buy influence, that foodbanks are inevitable, that the NHS will always be in crisis, that our rivers will always be polluted, and that a race to the bottom on employment rights is inevitable.
History will show that the Government’s provocation of working people is the act of a Government on the ropes, bereft of direction, and lashing out at the very public they claim to protect. It’s grim 50-year-old ideological experiment is in tatters all around it, and your defiance of it will, I know hasten it’s much needed downfall.