Frances O’Grady says Labour should do what Opposition should do and oppose the government
Addressing TUC Congress in Brighton, she congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his result, saying: “After the disappointment of the general election result, few would have dreamed we’d see so many people – especially young people – cramming into town halls, wanting to get involved; few would have dared hope that Labour had a chance of becoming a genuinely mass party once again.
“But make no mistake, leading Labour, and making it fit to fight for power again, is a serious job; it’s a tough job.
“I’m all too aware that at the one thing any new leader never lacks is offers of advice. Nevertheless, I would make this observation. A political party has to be a good deal more than a fan club.
“Its success depends on membership unity and mutual respect. It must reach well beyond its own ranks, and appeal to the country at large. And it must have a higher collective purpose beyond that of any one individual, or any one constituency of interest.
“Labour’s purpose is clear: to deliver wealth and opportunity to the many and not the few. But that means winning a general election to deliver it.
“So now the contest is over, on behalf of working people my message to Labour is this” look sharp, pull together and do what working people are crying out for her Majesty’s Opposition to do – get stuck in and oppose.”
She went on to address government plans to restrict workers’ right to strike, describing the Trade Union Bill as the biggest attack on trade unions in thirty years.
She said: “This Bill is not just against trade unions, but against our best chance of raising productivity, pay and demand.
“Because here is the simple truth: you can’t create wealth without the workforce. And you can’t spread that wealth around fairly without trade unions.
“So I make no apology for defending strong trade unions, including make sure they have the right to strike – if they need to.”
To a standing ovation, cheers and applause, she finished by saying: “The government has woefully miscalculated the resilience of working people and their unions. Because let me make it clear that with every ounce of our strength we oppose this Bill.
“I’m proud to be a trade unionist. I know you feel that pride too. That’s why we say to every worker worried about their future; everyone who wants not just a job but a career; everyone who wants enough time to spend with the people they love and a decent home to live in – join us. Join a union. Be part of our movement. Because together we are stronger.”
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