Dave Prentis had a message for “David Cameron and his cronies” as the Tory conference got under way in Birmingham at the weekend.
“You have 220 days until the general election,” the UNISON general secretary warned: “Make the most of it – because we intend to make these your last days in power.”
Mr Prentis was speaking ast the Hard Up Festival in Birmingham, organised by by the TUC to coincide with the opening of the Conservative conference.
“We are living in historic times,” he told the rally: “For the first time, more working families are now in poverty than non-working ones.
“And a large number of these are public-service workers.”
Mr Prentis said that years of pay freezes “mean that key staff, such as nurses, social workers and teaching assistants, have seen their spending power completely wiped out over the last five years.
“We now have the situation – unheard of for the past 30 years – where NHS staff have no option but to opt for strike action.”
And this is “not a decision any of them take lightly. But they have no choice.
“The only alternative was to sit back and watch on as Jermey Hunt and David Cameron continue to trample down their standard of living.”
And the heatlh workers are not alone, Mr Prentis pointed out.
“In taking this decision, they join hundreds of thousands more UNISON members – in local government, in the Food Standards Agency and across the public sector – all taking the ultimate stand against the erosion of their pay.
“Consider this: in local government, employers had no choice but to raise pay extra at the bottom of the pay scale, just to ensure they actually complied with national minimum wage law!
“That is how far things have dropped.”
All this is made worse by privatisation, which means the cuts are passed on to the workers, particularly the low paid, said Mr Prentis.
“Our people are not asking for the world,” he noted: “Just fairness; a chance to have enough money in their pocket to get by without being forced to go cap in hand.”
UNISON (National News Release) – Tel: 0845 355 0845