Delegates gathered for the GMB union congress in Plymouth ahead of the general election this week.
Mary Turner, the GMB president, opened the conference by slamming Theresa May’s attacks on working class people. “The Tories who told you to buy your home under ‘right to buy’ now want to take it away if you care for people with dementia,” she said.
“They want to sell off the NHS, saddle our kids with debt and lay off thousands of school support staff.”
For many delegates the way to stop this was through a Labour government.
While the GMB leadership see a Labour government as main way to win change, it has been equivocal in supporting the party’s left wing leadership. Turner noticeably didn’t mention Corbyn in her speech.
Speakers from the floor slammed the Tories’ public sector pay freeze. Delegate James McCrossan praised the Labour Party for pledging to lift the pay cap—and called on other parties to follow suit.
Gordon Gibbs from the central executive committee spoke on the motion. “Public sector workers must stand together against this government,” he said, “and whichever government is formed after 8 June we need to bust this pay cap”.
That’s right—but the union will have to organise strikes to do that.
Attacking the Tories’ Trade Union Act, delegate Matt Denton, said, “Collective action has given us maternity pay and an end to child labour. No wonder they want to take it away from us.”
Unions will have to wield that power in order to defy the act and beat back the bosses’ attacks.
Delegates also passed motions in solidarity with refugees after the destruction of the Calais camp and slamming Donald Trump’s racist Muslim ban.