Sir Keir Starmer is branded untrustworthy and timid by union baronsSeptember 11, 2023
Sir Keir Starmer is branded untrustworthy and timid by union barons as they warn him not to ‘go down the route of Tony Blair’
- The Labour leader also came under pressure to repeal all anti-strike laws
Sir Keir Starmer has been branded untrustworthy and timid by trade union leaders who warned him not to ape Tony Blair if he wins power.
The Labour leader also came under pressure to repeal all anti-strike laws as his party prepares to unveil its plan for workers’ rights.
The first of a series of attacks he faced yesterday – as union barons gathered at the TUC Congress in Liverpool – came over his U-turns on scrapping tuition fees and on taxing the rich.
Veteran PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told LBC radio: ‘I hope when Keir Starmer comes to Liverpool he is actually going to accept he should not go down the route of Tony Blair and lose the opportunity to do radical change in this country.
‘The problem I have with Keir Starmer is that if you get elected by making ten solemn pledges and when it comes to face the electorate you have actually ripped up the majority of those pledges, you don’t stand very high in the list of Labour leaders in my book.’
The Labour leader also came under pressure to repeal all anti-strike laws as his party prepares to unveil its plan for workers’ rights (File Photo)
Asked if Sir Keir can be trusted, Mr Serwotka replied: ‘I believe that anyone who makes ten pledges and then breaks them is not in a position to ask to be trusted.’
Next the opposition leader came under fire from Unite’s Sharon Graham for his failure to put forward radical policies including on nationalisation. ‘Where is Labour on this issue? They cannot be on the same wobbly fence that they’re sometimes on for the other issues we’re trying to push,’ she told TUC delegates from the conference stage.
She accused him of being ‘too timid to talk of hope, too conservative to make change’ and of ‘watering down your own promises to give workers a real voice’.
Ms Graham said some in the union movement believe they should trust a future Labour government and that it will be ‘alright on the night’.
But she added: ‘We cannot wait for jam tomorrow. With the rowing back of workers rights, I’m not in a very trusting mood.
‘The challenges we face are just too big to leave to the timid.’
Unite’s Sharon Graham accused Starmer of being ‘too timid to talk of hope, too conservative to make change’ and of ‘watering down your own promises to give workers a real voice’ (File Photo)
Rail union leader Mick Lynch told Labour it should see improving workers’ rights as a ‘vote winner’. ‘They should be enthusiastically promoting the New Deal for Working People – [an initiative launched by Labour in 2021] – as key to delivering the change this country needs,’ he said.
Although Labour is committed to scrapping the new Strikes Act, which promises minimum service levels in sectors such as transport during industrial action, TUC delegates passed a motion calling for it to go further and ‘repeal all anti-trade union laws within 12 months of gaining office’.
As unions vowed not to comply with the anti-strike law, a teachers’ leader said he would shut down schools if the legislation led to his members being sacked for walking out in breach of minimum service requirements.
National Education Union general secretary Daniel Kebede told a fringe meeting: ‘Should any one of the NEU members get sacked, the next time we take strike action we will close that school until they are reinstated.’ n The Conservative party conference could be derailed by train strikes for a second year after unions caused disruption before last year’s conference in Birmingham. RMT boss Mick Lynch admitted a walkout could be timed with the Tory gathering in Manchester next month.
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