TUC women's conference
What can you buy with 10p?
By Helen Shooter
DELEGATES TO the TUC women's conference this year showed their discontent with New Labour's policies in debate after debate. Sofi Taylor from UNISON ignited the conference when she slammed New Labour's 10p rise in the minimum wage. Brandishing a 10p piece she said, "Tony, this is 10p. Can you tell me what you can buy? Is �3.70 a living wage? As a nurse I know the links between poverty and ill health. An inadequate income means malnutrition. We are worth more than this 10p!"
Speakers also tore into New Labour's claim to have "family - friendly" policies when the government refuses to give fathers the right to paid parental leave. A delegate from the TGWU said, "For many the right to unpaid parental leave is meaningless. It's a case of no pay, no way. Family - friendly policies should not just be for wealthy parents."
Delegates politely applauded TUC leader John Monks's speech to conference, where he described the TUC as "a critical friend of New Labour, but we are a friend". However, delegates enthusiastically cheered and clapped rail worker and London Socialist Alliance candidate Janine Booth when she challenged Monks over what the TUC is going to do about the government's betrayals.
"How well do you think New Labour is representing working people with the low minimum wage, when they refused to renationalise the railways after 31 people were murdered at Paddington? They have kept the Tory anti - union laws, and are persecuting and whipping up hysteria against asylum seekers," she said. In the debate on Section 28 delegates showed their disgust for the anti - gay campaign waged in papers like the Mail, and the Daily Record in Scotland. And one of the conference's liveliest debates took place at a fringe meeting on "Women and Poverty" attended by over 70 people. Sue Brighouse from the Child Poverty Action Group criticised New Labour's attack on universal benefits, saying, "If you want to tax child benefit, then why not tax the rich, full stop?"