What do unions think of Labour’s manifesto?



Unions have welcomed Labour’s election manifesto, praising it as “impressive”, a “chance for real change” and “a real opportunity to build a better Britain”.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “This is an exciting and progressive platform on which Labour can fight the next election. It offers people a real opportunity to help build a better Britain.

“Jeremy understands how ordinary hardworking men and women are suffering in the Conservative Age of Austerity. David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May and Philip Hammond have pulled off the trick of redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich – the reverse of Robin Hood! – to bail out the fat cats and bankers who caused the economic crisis of 2008.

“In contrast Jeremy wants to rebuild Britain to create a fairer, more modern society, with a more productive economy, that delivers for all the people, not just the few, and is fit for the 21st century.

“We especially welcome the promise to bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership – a policy on which ASLEF has campaigned passionately ever since John Major’s ill-starred privatisation of British Rail in 1994 – and freeze passenger fares across the network.

“This is an exciting, and sensible, socialist platform on which any of the great Labour Party leaders of the past – Keir Hardie, Clement Attlee, and Harold Wilson – would have been happy to stand. That’s why I urge people to vote Labour on 8 June and help return a Labour government to build a better Britain.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Labour’s pledges to end the public sector pay cap, improve collective bargaining, repeal anti-trade union legislation and strengthen employment rights stand in stark contrast to the Conservatives’ bogus claims on workers’ rights.

“Labour’s manifesto sets out a clear commitment to many long-standing PCS industrial issues and demands, including an end to the privatisation of public services, renationalisation of public utilities and raising the pay of civil and public service workers.

“Tax reforms we have long campaigned for – including the ‘Robin Hood tax’ – offer the opportunity to ensure that those with the greatest wealth contribute more. Coupled with much-needed investment in HMRC to go after those who evade and avoid tax, these reforms will provide essential and much-needed investment in our public services.

“Plans to reform social security, including scrapping the hated Bedroom Tax, ending benefit sanctions and reinstating housing benefit for those under 21, are most welcome and signal a shift away from the policy of demonising claimants doggedly pursued by the Tories.

“Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have always shown great support for PCS campaigns and our members, and their pledges are in stark contrast to what the Tories have to offer. We have been clear that our message to our members is that another Tory government would be the worst possible outcome.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is an exciting, ambitious vision for a big-hearted, inclusive Britain that will build better lives for the many not the few. What’s not to like? Of course, as the head of transport union which has long campaigned to see rail brought back into public ownership I am delighted on behalf of TSSA members to welcome Labour’s commitment to taking back control of rail from corporate franchise holders who for too long have been able to get away with extracting profit out of our rail system without having to plough back into it in investment.

“Great news that the construction of HS2 is to be extended into Scotland as is that HS3 and Crossrail 2 will also be built. Good quality rail links are at the heart of a modern economy and today we have been not just been given the plan but the commitment to bringing every area of Britain onto 21st century track.

“This manifesto will transform Britain’s rail industry and help underpin the expansion of a high speed, high-tech economy. Our members too will be delighted at the commitment to a £10 living wage which will lift so many of their fellow workers and family members off the bread line. The commitment to house building, an industrial strategy, NHS and public services shows Labour is putting people back at the heart of British economy, committing to giving the many a wage rise. This manifesto show working people are definitely better off with Labour. Bring on June 8.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “There are clear dividing lines for who to vote for in this election. Labour will invest in firefighters in order to keep people safe, whereas the Tories will continue to cut and decimate our service, putting public safety at risk.

“Having 3,000 more firefighters on the frontline is a promising start, and we welcome their commitment to review staffing levels across the service as a whole.

“Fire deaths have risen for the first time in 20 years since the Tories came to power, and response times to emergencies are getting slower. The service is in crisis and the Tories don’t have a plan to save it. Labour are the safe pair of hands who will deliver a properly resourced fire service to protect public safety.”

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “What Labour is doing today is what Labour does best – offering real change for the many in this country. Labour will invest in our people and build a Britain that we can all be proud of.

“For those who want to see our children given a chance, to see that work really pays, that our elderly and vulnerable are no longer degraded by government policy, then the answer is to vote Labour.

“For too long, working people have been at the sharp end of Conservative cuts and disastrous economic mismanagement – and they will be again if that party takes power on 8 June. The reality of Conservative rule is that for those not protected by power and wealth, life gets tougher.

“In every aspect of life – from an affordable home to a safe NHS, from a decent education for all our kids to a living wage and a decent job – the story of the Tory party is that our communities suffer. The Labour party will put a halt to this. Under Labour, working people and their communities will stand tall again.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Labour has produced a manifesto that delivers for public services. Ending the pay cap will make a huge difference for hard-pressed public sector employees. Proper investment in the NHS and social care will have a huge impact on patients and staff too.

“When the other parties unveil their manifestos later this week, they would do well to take a leaf out of Labour’s book – and stand up for public services and those who work in them.”

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “Labour’s manifesto is one that would practically change millions of lives. From social care, to housing, to Sure Start and our NHS – it’s a manifesto that makes sense for working people.

“It’s a manifesto about fairness and about helping real people to get by and get on in life. It’s not paying lip service to the issues people face, it’s taking them head on. The country is crying out for change. This is a manifesto that can deliver it. People need to get out there and vote for it.”

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said: “Universal Credit will plunge far more working families into poverty, which will be almost impossible to work their way out of. We supported the initial intentions of Universal Credit, to simplify benefits and improve incentives to work.  However, severe cost cutting has turned Universal Credit into a real threat to the incomes of low-paid working families,

“Although we won the argument on the proposed massive cuts to tax credits, forcing a u-turn from the Government; those cuts are still being applied to Universal Credit and will hit millions of working families over the next 3 years. This is a ticking time bomb that will leave many working families thousands of pounds worse-off when they are transferred onto Universal Credit.

“We are looking to a Labour Government to restore the original purpose of Universal Credit, to encourage entry to and progression in work. The low work allowance and high clawback of net earnings are particular disincentives to work. There needs to be a fresh look at what Universal Credit means in practice for low and middle income earners and get this troubled project back on track to support not penalise working families.

“Whilst the Prime Minister has talked about supporting families struggling to make ends meet, only Labour has the policies to provide crucial support to help make working family incomes meet the cost of living.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is an impressive set of pledges from the Labour Party. Their commitments to improve workers’ rights and drive up wages would make a real difference to millions of workers.

“There’s clearly a growing political consensus to address issues affecting working people. Decent jobs and fair pay must top of the list for the new government.

“Nobody voted for Brexit to lose their hard-won protections at work. That is why Labour is right to protect existing rights at work, and pledge to at least match future EU rights. British workers shouldn’t miss out on rights enjoyed by other European workers.

“With one in ten workers now in insecure jobs, it’s good to see a real attempt to improve workplace rights. Banning zero-hours contracts would give nearly a million workers the certainty and security they deserve. And abolishing employment tribunal fees would make it easier for people to defend their rights at work.

“Labour rightly recognises that Britain still needs a pay rise. Wages still haven’t recovered from the financial crash, and far too many working people struggle to pay the bills.

“Increasing the minimum wage, and expanding collective bargaining coverage, are proven and effective ways to drive up stagnating pay.

“And ending artificial pay restrictions in the public sector will stop the real pay cuts for public servants after seven long years. Hard-working nurses shouldn’t be forced to turn to food banks.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Labour’s commitment to British state ownership of our rail,  power and water, ‎as opposed to the foreign state-backed exploitation of our essential services supported by the Tories, shows that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is clearly fighting to protect our national interests.

“Labour’s manifesto recognises the dangers of Driver Only Operation and commits to safe and accessible railways for all.  The manifesto represents a massive boost for public transport after more than two decades of Tory privatisation and RMT welcomes this departure from the failed, profiteering model that has dragged Britain into the slow lane.”

Labour should commit to public ownership of the railway as recommended in new report


Tribune, 13th July 2012 published ‘Blueprint for Britain – rebuilding our railways’ by Ian Taylor – a radical new report on our railway system, offering a solution to the problems caused by privatisation. http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2012/07/blueprint-for-britain-rebuilding-our-railways/

The Rebuilding Rail research sets out a strategy for a future Labour government to re-integrate rail operations and infrastructure, phase out franchising and give a democratic role to passengers, the rail workforce, and elected local and regional authorities…  It is conservatively estimated that £1.2 billion of public money is lost each year as a direct result of privatisation and fragmentation – enough to fund an 18 per cent cut in fares if those sources of wastage were removed by reunifying the railway under public control.

The private sector has failed to deliver the promised innovation, investment, or efficiency. For example, the costs of backroom staff have increased 56 per cent per train kilometre, even after adjusting for inflation. But the privatised railway could be progressively reformed at little or no short-term cost while realising substantial savings in the medium term.

The Labour Party could make a number of popular commitments before the next general election, including:

* Money saved from re-integrating Britain’s railways will be used to lower fares.

* No new franchises will be let under a Labour government.

* All existing franchises will be reviewed to assess whether taxpayers and farepayers would receive better value for money by buying them out

*  A Labour government will reduce dividend leakage, including a 50 per cent tax on dividends from train operating and rolling stock companies.

*  Labour will campaign against the European Commission’s intention to force member states to open domestic passenger services to competition.

* There will be a planned programme of investment in publicly-owned rolling stock that would help to rebuild domestic train-making capacity.

There is a clear need for the different parts of the railway to be managed as a coherent whole, to ensure that infrastructure, services and rolling stock are managed and developed in an integrated way. This would provide a single railway entity for national government to deal with; achieve greater efficiencies; and remove many of the costs of the fragmentation between train companies and Network Rail….

The gradual acquisition of national rail passenger franchises would not require significant expenditure…. For those franchises already let, reacquisition could be done as contracts end, or at contract break points, or by tighter enforcement of franchise conditions. The phased accretion of passenger franchises into GB Rail Network and Operations would provide a comparator against which remaining private operators could be benchmarked and the benefits of the new approach could be proved….

The revenues from these profitable routes would be captured by the rail industry instead of leaking out in dividend payments to shareholders (in many cases, the state railways of other EU countries), and used to invest in the network, to keep down fares and to cross-subsidise the less profitable socially valuable parts of the network.

When several billions of pounds of public money are flowing into the railway each year, and when tens of billions of pounds of public money are underwriting the railway’s debts, proper public control of the railway is called for.

Other countries in Europe still regard it as quite normal that a public service as important as the railway should be appropriately managed through public ownership in order to realise the broad economic, social and environmental gains which rail can deliver.

This report documents in detail a route to achieve that and, moreover, shows how it could be done at a saving to the public purse of more than £1 billion a year.

Ian Taylor is director of Transport for Quality of Life. The Rebuilding Rail report is available for download at www.transportforqualityoflife.com

‘ Privatisation has done untold damage to the rail industry, undermined safety and handed guaranteed, risk-free profits to operators for whom dividends are the only priority.’ – Bob Crow, General Secretary, RMT

‘… we now have the dearest fares in Europe and yet…. We are shelling out £4 billion a year in subsidy (compared with £900,000 a year for BR), while also picking up the annual bill for Network Rail’s debt mountain of £27 billion.’ – Manuel Cortes, General Secretary, Transport Staff’s Association

‘[The report] demonstrates how the franchise system benefits accountants, lawyers and consultants – to the detriment of passengers and taxpayers.’ – Mick Whelan, General Secretary, ASLEF

‘Public ownership would bring a political commitment to ensure rail plays a part in advancing broader public policies, such as environment, social mobility, poverty and housing.  This report rightly shows that a publicly-owned rail industry serving the needs of communities, businesses, manufacturing and the economy is achievable.’ – Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary, Unite


‘Privatisation of rail is a privatisation too far’ – Margaret Thatcher

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Renationalisation of Utilities -Water (Pam Field)