UNISON general secretary attacks organisation after “dead pensioners’ comments
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has launched a broadside at the “despicable” Tax Payers’ Alliance after the group’s research director suggested the Tories would not lose votes if they immediately cut benefits to pensioners because they would either be dead or forget before the next election.
Speaking during a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Alex Wild said the cuts should be made as soon as possible after an election for two reasons.
He said: “The first of which will sound a little bit morbid – some of the people… won’t be around to vote against you in the next election. So that’s just a practical point, and the other point is they might have forgotten by then.
“If you did it now, chances are that in 2020 someone who has had their winter fuel cut might be thinking, ‘Oh I can’t remember, was it this government or was it the last one? I’m not quite sure.’
“So on a purely practical basis I would say do it immediately. That might be one of those things I regret saying in later life but that would be my practical advice to the government.”
The remarks infuriated Dave Prentic, who told his union’s annual retired members’ conference in Brighton: “These comments are despicable. Alex Wild’s remarks are disrespectful to the millions of pensioners who have paid more than their share in taxes down the years, helped build their communities, educated our young people, looked after the sick and the elderly, and kept our public services running.
“Our retired workers are the living history of UNISON. They are responsible for the values that union has today. Values that make the world a better place – fairness and justice in the workplace and a better society for all.
“Many of you will have grown up hearing from older members of your family what life was like before the NHS, the welfare state, or laws to protect people from being made ill by their jobs or injured at work.
“We cannot return to those dark days. And that is why we must do everything in our power to oppose this government’s attacks on the trade union rights of your ex-colleagues.
“We must also stand firm against ministers and their desire to shrink the state so drastically through harsh spending cuts that those healthcare and local services that remain are provided by private firms, whose only motive is profit.
“We must also oppose the unfair cuts to tax credits that will be hitting millions of your younger family members across the country. Cuts so harsh that some working families will lose as much as £50 a week next April.”
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