Posts Tagged ‘March for an alternative’

When Ed Miliband marches against austerity tomorrow, will he answer the £10bn question?

19/10/2012, 10:22:26 AM

by Atul Hatwal

Tomorrow, when Ed Miliband attends the TUC’s march against austerity, he will be asked a simple question.

The answer will help determine whether One Nation Labour is an idea that will resonate with the public or just an ephemeral phrase du jour:

Ed, do you back Unite, Unison and the GMB who have just submitted a claim for a 13% rise in wages on behalf of 1.6 million local government workers?

Yes or no?

No, don’t use a parsed formulation of words involving the phrase “tough choices” while avoiding a clear position.

Do not obfuscate, this isn’t a demand to write the next manifesto several years before the next election, it’s just a question that cannot wait three years for an answer.

Neither is it good enough to say that this is a matter for local government as if the leader of the Labour party is somehow legally proscribed from having an opinion.

For the unions, in a very practical sense, this wage claim is part of the alternative to austerity and it is a question they will ask of Labour’s leader, face to face, on Saturday.

Their local government members have faced real terms pay cuts, year on year since 2009. 13% sounds a lot for a wage claim but it would only recoup the real terms losses (e.g. the difference between inflation and the nominal pay rises awarded) suffered since 2009.

What is the point of the union movement if it cannot protect its members from never-ending pay cuts?


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