Billy Hayes of CWU – Speech At CTUF Launch Rally

images-39The Communication Workers Union welcomes the establishment of the Campaign For Trade Union Freedom.

We have supported the work of its predecessor organisations – the United Campaign and the Liaison Committee For The Defense of Trade Union.

Merging the campaigns gives the union movement a more effective tool to pursue the case for trade union rights.

Now, more than ever, we need effective trade unions. We are witnessing the most sustained attack upon living standards since the 1930’s.

Real wages today are no higher than they were in 2008. Yet being in a trade union still makes a big difference.

In 2008 the average hourly rate for unorganised workers was £11.63 – for unionised workers it was £13.07.

So, in 2008 unionised workers were over 11% better off in their wages.

By the end of 2011, unorganised workers were on £12.20 – this compares to £14.18 for unionised workers.

That’s a premium of 18.1% for unionised workers.

This demonstrates why it pays to be in a union – even in the depths of economic crisis and stagnation.

It also explains why the employers, and their chums in the Tory Party, continue to hate us so much.

And make no mistake; they hate us to the point of irrationality. How else can you explain Osborne’s preoccupation with the scheme whereby workers give up their employment rights in exchange for a company shares?

After all, none of the major employers organisations support it. Not the CBI, nor the British Chamber of Commerce.

The CIPD, who represent HR professionals, writes of his experiment:

“… There is no evidence to suggest that removing employees rights to claim unfair dismissal… will have any positive effect on growth and jobs. ”

A former Conservative minister Lord Deben in Thatcher’s Cabinet said:

“I cannot imagine any circumstances whatsoever in which this would be of any use to any business that I have ever come across in my entire life ”

And that is the opinion of the person who used to be called John Selwyn Gummer.

George Osborne demonstrates a peculiar mix of class hatred and blind belief in his own abilities.

In this week’s budget, he managed to produce a neutral budget, whilst the economy is crying out for a major investment stimulus from government.

Investment in Britain has slumped to just 14 percent of GDP.  At the same time we have a serious fall in productivity over five consecutive quarters.

Osborne answers demands for a stimulus to the economy by announcing £2.5bn spending on infrastructure.

But then says that this money will be taken off other government spending.

A brilliant plan to promote a stimulus exactly balanced with a cut.

Even then, the budget contains a drop of a further £1.6bn, so the stimulus ends up being deflationary.

But the close friends and supporters of the Chancellor will not be too worried about this deception.

In 2012, dividend payments to shareholders reached a record high of £79bn. The class war continues to be rewarding occupation for those rich enough to enjoy it.

We have come to expect this defiance of reality from the Coalition government.

Remember, they said that austerity was necessary because it would lead to:

▪                the economy returning to growth

▪                the expansion of the most productive sectors with a “march of the manufacturers”

▪                a renewal of private investment – after having supposedly been crowded out by public spending

▪                a reduction in the public sector deficit

▪                the maintenance of the country’s credit worthiness with a triple A rating.

By all of the government’s own measures, the Coalition government policies have failed:

▪                far from the economy growing, we have a double dip recession. Even if we avoid a triple dip, the economy is stagnant – with a forecast of 0.6% growth in 2013.

▪                manufacturers aren’t marching – in fact therefore they are falling faster than the service sector

▪                private investors are hoarding cash rather than investing – over  £75bns of company cash is being held by the banks

▪                nor is the public spending deficit falling – it is £70bn more than predicted in 2010

▪                and of course Osborne has seen Moody’s Agency remove Britain’s AAA rating.

Regardless of failure, Osborne and Cameron do not intend to change course.

The CWU wants to see an expansion of the economy.  We believe the Coalition government should be investing in the economy, not cutting spending.

If the economy expands, the more people are employed, more tax is paid to the Exchequer, and less is paid out in unemployment benefits.

By this process, the public sector deficit reduces in a gradual and natural manner.

The cuts in living standards of millions of people have reduced economic activity, not stimulated it.

Now, we need a jobs and wages-led recovery to stimulate consumer demand and spending.

It has been a long haul to win every freedom we have.  It will be a long haul to secure a labour market where trade union rights are not fettered by unjust laws.

To today we are beginning a new fight. The launch of the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom could prove to be one of the most important events of 2013.

The CWU is fully behind this initiative.  Thanks for listening.


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