As early as May we were reporting some of the big demands from unions such as Unite and GMB from the Labour national policy forum – which ended yesterday.
How many did they actually get? Hardly anything, despite the OTT headlines this morning.
Sieve through the promises and most are either vague (greater commitment to in-house hospital cleaners) or reheated (extending parental leave). The one relatively concrete change, a lowering of the adult minimum wage from 22 to 21, has been suggested before by the Low Pay Commission and – even now – is not definite. Nor will it cost business a fortune to implement.
Here are some of the things that unions didn’t win:
* A change in the ballot process to make industrial action less prone to end up in the courts
* A windfall tax on fuel companies
* A change in the law to make secondary action easier
* A rise in the National Insurance ceiling
* An end to the privatisation of the welfare state
* Free meals in primary schools (councils have been ‘invited’ to look at a pilot in Hull)
Last week the Tories claimed that the unions had bought influence over Labour through their massive donations to the party. Unless there are secret deals still to emerge, that doesn’t look the case.
I’ve just read through the whole detailed 25-page agreement. Some of the language won’t go down well with the comrades…
eg…”we will continue to use voluntary and community organisations, social enterprises and the independent sector in providing (public) services”….”allowing real choice means that patients, and the NHS, can act on these preferences. So we will take choice further…in other areas of healthcare including maternity services and general practice.”