On 23 September Labour Party conference passed a motion against the public sector pay freeze, which the Labour leaders have promised to continue, and for the Living Wage to be made law.
Speaking for the motion, Dave Prentis, general secretary of the public services union Unison, called for “a clear unambiguous Labour promise to turn a statutory minimum wage into a living wage”. He continued: “The pay freeze must end. No ifs, no buts — a clear commitment to end the Tory pay freeze”.
The actual text voted on — a composite of motions put to conference on the question — had been made vaguer. Labour officials briefed the media (inaccurately) that “the party’s official policies are decided by its National Executive” (not conference) (Guardian, 23 September).
But the conference wanted clear commitments. During this crisis, workers in Britain have suffering the longest squeeze on real wages since records began.
Bosses have increased their wealth and income through class struggle. A working-class fightback can shift the balance.
The question now is whether activists can make our unions act on Prentis’s declaration, both by organising and supporting workers to win wage rises in our industries, and by using union voting strength in the Labour Party to make a future Labour government end the pay freeze and make the Living Wage the legal minimum wage.