Somewhere up the stairs, into the fire

01 July 2017

It’s been a long month with the run up to the election and, of course, our own parliament, AAD, in Bristol, much of which is covered in the following pages. We have a hung parliament with the Conservatives seeking an alliance, not a coalition, of ‘confidence and supply’ with the DUP. With the fraught situation at Stormont, it would be very foolish to do anything that would undermine the Good Friday agreement.

 

But that is the norm for the Tories – 25 percentage points ahead in the polls, hubris and arrogance, so far ahead we can do what we want, the public will swallow an uncosted manifesto and more austerity – including a dementia tax, as spiteful and damaging as previous policies such as the despised bedroom tax – removal of PIP, ATOS assessments, and hundreds of thousands using food banks. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that there were 1 million people, including 312,000 children, destitute in the UK in 2015. How many more now? No surprise, then, to some of us, that a properly costed manifesto for the many not the few from a credible leader like Jeremy Corbyn (not the one ritually demonized in the right-wing press) produced more seats – and votes across the country – for Labour.

 

Unions, federations, there are a lot of names for organisations that represent workers. We have condemned the cuts, under the guise of austerity, in public services and ‘cutting red tape’ which is just a euphemism for the removal of the employer’s duty on health and safety whilst, at the same time, removing the worker’s rights to redress from bad employers or injury. The government that voted down a bill that private homes should be habitable is a moral and ethical disgrace in the 21st century. So, on behalf of ASLEF and its members, I offer an unqualified tribute to all those frontline workers in the police, fire brigade, ambulance and NHS, and those working behind the scenes, who have done so much, particularly after the incidents in Manchester and London Bridge and the terrible Grenfell Tower fire.

 

They have a vocation and a dedication that has not been properly rewarded. If the race to the bottom on health and safety is shown to be a contributory factor then the law must be changed to penalise government and other bodies which are negligent for monetary gain.

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