Sir Keir Starmer (Labour leader) has addressed delegates at Brighton’s Trade Union Congress.
He reiterated that there are different jobs in the Labour Movement and that there was a split between trade unions and the Labour Party leader.
He made a point of stressing how the Labour Party under his leadership would continue to approach the current bout of union strikes “as if it was in government”. This is code for Sir Keir refusing endorsement of any current industrial action.
Nonetheless, Starmer’s appearance at the TUC this morning, appeared to be generally well received by union delegates.
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In a subsequent question and answer session, Sir Keir attacked the online retailer Amazon, chastising the company for its failure to recognize the GMB Union and calling upon the company to have a “unionised workforce”.
Starmer’s earlier speech was scarce on policy announcements, but heavy on principles and personal anecdotes. The Labour leader referred to the experiences of his sister, who is a care worker, in this speech.
Detailing the long hours that his sister works, Starmer said, “The fight for fair pay, for fair work, to make our economy work for everyone, is personal for me”, adding, “If you don’t back people like my sister don’t be surprised if you get 12 years of stagnant growth”.
Attacking the concept of trickle-down economics, Sir Keir Starmer said, “Working people will not be better off, because we make the rich richer. It is dogma. The world has moved on from these discredited ideas”.
Continuing Sir Keir Starmer said, “It is not just the privileged few that grow Britain’s economy. The Tories are so wrong about this”.
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Party leader to Trade Union Congress, focused his remarks on industrial relations as well as employment policy.
Mid-speech, the Labour leader received a standing ovation. He stated that the party would oppose any future restrictions on the right of strikers by the government and would repeal them. He also pledged to repealing the 2016 Trade Union Act.
Stating that the problem with the UK economy was “too many” low paid and insecure jobs, Starmer claimed that there would be ‘no more one sided flexibility’.
He stated that a Labour government would provide parental leave, fire and rehire, prohibit zero hour contracts, ban zero hour contracting, mandate reporting of ethnicity pay gaps and establish statutory sick pay.
Sir Keir’s today reception contrasts with the difficulties he was facing in his relations to the trade union movement twelve months ago. At last year’s Labour conference, the leading trade union, BFAWU, disaffiliated from the Labour Party.