Prentis Warns Labour

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UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis yesterday pledged ‘our union will bring together an alliance of all public service unions’ to defend jobs and public services.

He also warned the Labour government that a million Unison members ‘are tired of feeding the hand that bites them’, to big applause.

He said the alliance will bring together ‘local government, health, civil service, teachers, and education’ trades unions.

He said it will be ‘an alliance to fight job cuts, to defend our public services, a united plan of action.

‘Our union will bring together all health unions inside and outside the TUC, a united fight to save our National Health Service.

‘And Conference, we need to go further. We need to be bold, we shouldn’t be battening down the hatches.’

To big applause, he warned the Labour government: ‘No more blank cheques. As General Secretary, speaking for all our members, I call on the Labour Link to suspend all constituency development payments.

‘As General Secretary I call on Labour Link to ensure that our movement only promotes and supports prospective Labour candidates who are willing to stand up for our values of public service.

‘And as far as MPs who become Unison members, I have no quarrel with that, but as a union, I call on Labour Link to ensure that we should only work with and support trade union MPs who also stand up for our values.

‘But most of all, I call on Labour Link to fight to ensure that any Labour Party manifesto does not continue the privatisation of our public services and those who provide them.

‘We must demand a manifesto that puts limits on privatisation.

‘We must demand a manifesto that rebuilds public provision.

‘We cannot tell our members to campaign and vote for a party whose manifesto promises more competition and more privatisation of our public services.’

He warned: ‘We are going through a period of dirty banking and dirty politics.’

He added, ‘one law for them and another for us. The bail-out means hard times for our people.

‘Whoever is in power they will come for our jobs, they will come for our pensions, they will come for our public services.

‘But remember, we are a strong, free, independent union. We are not just here for the good times, we will protect our members.’

Earlier, he declared: ‘It’s time for change. For too long this Labour government has let the billionaires, the bankers and the private profiteers call the shots.’