The GMB delegation to Labour Party conference was lively as ever. We had delegates from across the country in Manchester to talk about GMB and workplace issues from the floor of conference and to listen, speak and contribute to fringe meetings too.
Southern Region’s Barbara Plant was first up, welcoming the Party’s pledge to reintroduce the School Support Staff Negotiating Body if theyr’e elected. As a former teaching assistant, Barbara spoke with real credibility about the issue. You can see Southern Region’s press release on the SSSNB here.
Paul Kenny brought the realities of life as a trade unionist in Colombia to the fore while moving the GMB/UCATT motion on Global Human Rights. His speech was incredibly powerful, speaking about how a local government activist had been tortured just for doing a job many of us do every day. We can't do justice to the issue in a short blog, you can see his speech here.
Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Region’s Stacey Booth – a first time delegate and first time speaker – was next up. She spoke about the need for a publicly funded, integrated health social care system (and properly funded was key, not staff being asked to do more for less).
The region were on fire with Tim Roache taking the platform to talk about GMB’s special report on housing and the need to build, safe, decent and affordable homes for all.
Our final contribution came from Birmingham and West Midland Region’s Stephanie Peacock who as well as representing GMB,
was speaking as a parliamentary candidate too. Steph spoke about cuts to local bus services, particularly the services which help people access their local NHS.
Lots of other delegates should get a special mention for trying to get up and ‘give it some’ from the platform including Gary Smith, Lorraine Parker and Dave Clements.
Ed’s speech was well received by our delegates – despite the press trying to give it a negative spin. Ed talked a lot about what an economy that works for ordinary people will look like, about a new green economy and increasing wages for the lowest paid. He got a standing ovation for taking on vested interests – such as the Daily Mail who attacked his Dad and for pledging to support our NHS. Paul Kenny did plenty of news interviews afterwards, you can see his response to the speech
Another highlight of the week was the speech by 91 year old author Harry Smith – a Barnsley lad who grew up in the slums there in the 1920s. It’s well worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already, it moved plenty of people to tears and reminded us exactly why we have to win the next election.
There were plenty of events an goings on off the floor as well. The Political Team and unison Together held a fringe called ‘A bit of common sense: winning for working people’ chaired by Unions Together's Byron Taylor with Paul Kenny, Lisa Nandy MP, Louise Haigh PPC and GMB young member Jo Hepworth. It was standing room only – we were in breach of fire regulations so we even had to kick some people out!
Head of Public Services Brian Strutton hosted and event on local government and trade union backed Centre of Labour and Social Studies has numerous events throughout the conference which Tim Roache and Steph Peacock were again speaking at.
All in all, we spent plenty of time speaking about the issues our members care about and everyone came away ready to fight the general election. Now it’s over to #TeamGMB to help deliver a Labour win in 2015.