I came from a family where joining a union was the expected thing to do. I’ve always believed that the relationship between an employer and an individual worker is fundamentally unequal.
I cherish the creation of public space and services especially health housing and the comprehensive education system which dared to give so many of us ideas ‘above our station.’
When I look at my daughter who’s 24 she is much more confident than I ever was and her expectations are higher. But I worry that there is a backlash brewing against progress on equality.
It is not natural or inevitable that half the world goes hungry that the freedom of markets trumps protection of the planet or that citizens’ rights come second to those of corporations.
The TUC’s new slogan ‘a future that works’ sets a profound challenge. Austerity and rapid deficit reduction is failing in its own terms but even at its best it is short-sighted muddle-through politics with no vision of a new economic model.
All the evidence shows very clearly that if you are a member of a trade union you are likely to get better pay more equal pay better health and safety more chance to get training more chance to have conditions of work that help if you have caring responsibilities… the list goes on!
As long as the number one worry for people keeping them up at nights is whether they’re going to have a job in the morning then they are less likely to resist unfair changes or unfair treatment or cuts in real pay at work.
My impression is that most women public service workers have a long fuse. Precisely because they care so deeply about services more than anyone they still want to find a sensible and fair negotiated agreement. But their patience has run out.
I want a society that provides decent jobs for those who can work and decent security for those can’t.
RFK was a compelling figure because he was willing to challenge his audiences and in turn connect with them in a unique way. Kennedy showed that our values define us and can inspire others to believe in the possibility of change and a better society.