Friday, June 22, 2012

UNISON NDC 12: Income Inequality

Gloria Hanson, Regional Delegate and Regional Convenor for the Greater London Region, moving composite E – Income Inequality.

UNISON has a tremendous track record in fighting inequality. But there is one form we seem to have stopped talking about. Income inequality. Wealth discrimination. As my mum would say – the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

I know I don’t need to tell you this.  But it’s time to go back to basics. To expose the ever increasing gulf between rich and poor.

Today the richest 10%of the UK population own more than 100 times the wealth of the bottom 10%. What an absolute disgrace .
This is the biggest gap in wealth since the Second World War. What’s even more frightening is that the gap is becoming a gulf.

At work, income inequality causes low staff morale; resentment and mistrust from clients, residents and services users alike – where the ordinary worker earns chicken feed in comparison to the chief executive. Even ‘not for profit’ organisations are jumping on the bandwagon - paying huge salaries to senior managers and slashing pay and terms & conditions of those of us who actually provide services and do the job.‘not for profit’ organisations are jumping on the bandwagon - paying huge salaries to senior managers and slashing pay and terms & conditions of those of us who actually provide services and do the job.
 
The book "the spirit level" has shown a clear link between income inequality, health and social problems. If you haven’t read it –do; you won’t regret it. It proves that the smaller the gap between rich and poor, the more successful the society is. If we reduce levels of income inequality in the UK we could increase life expectancy, decrease infant mortality rates, reduce crime and achieve better education attainment for our children.

Countries where the gap between the top and bottom earners is almost non-existent like Cuba; prove it -    improved mortality rates; quality free healthcare for all; quality free healthcare for all; lowest crime rates in all of Latin America; lowest crime rates in all of Latin America; 99.8 percent literacy rate.  They’ve got it right; all workers sharing the wealth of the country

But back to - ‘we’re all in this together Britain’. I’d like to know exactly WHO is in WHAT together;

The Tories are so divorced from reality. A reality where bankers – who we all know caused the financial crisis - are once again earning bonuses of millions of pounds each year. Whilst ordinary workers are still barely earning the minimum wage.  Having to do two or three jobs to put food on the table and simply pay soaring bills.

This Tory government is robbing the poor to stuff the bank accounts of the rich. Cameron; Clegg and Osborne are no Robin Hood or merry men; and I certainly don’t want to see them in green tights!
The Government isn’t listening; it’s blithely continuing with its agenda. So what is the answer?

Let’s go back to why trade unions were formed in the first place, why we formed the labour party over 100 years ago ......to campaign for workers and the working class.  We need to remember our roots and lead the way in the fight for a fair and just society. Work with other like minded organisations; campaign for laws to ensure income regulation in the public sector.

In the London region we have affiliated to the Equality Trust; and will work with them to raise this issue with our members and keep them informed of the facts. We must elect politicians with enough bottle to tackle this; to work with us to win a society where workers earn what they are due and not a pittance because the rest is in the pockets of the fat cats; chiefs and bosses
As a mother I want a better future for my children and for their children.  As a life-long Labour party member; I want Labour to be brave politicians who will grasp this nettle and return Britain to the workers.

As a trade unionist, I want my union to work within the Labour Party to campaign for this policy to make Britain a fairer place to live and work.  Workers across Britain know what’s wrong; but they don’t know how to fix it – we need to lead the way.

Conference – I move
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