Chuka Umunna said:
“If you want to know what an extreme austerity party looks like, then look no further than George Osborne’s extreme plans for the next Parliament. Cutting not because they have to, but because they want to.
“Just as the Tories plan for extreme cuts is wrong, it would be wrong not to balance the books; because there is nothing progressive about spending more in paying interest every year than you do on housing.
“The truth is that the Tory-led government have left the public finances in a real mess and it will be down to the next Labour Government to clear up their mess. It’s what happens when you preside over the slowest recovery anyone can remember. It’s what happens when the growth that finally comes does not generate the tax receipts we need because it does not work for working people.
“So we will deal with our debts because it is the only responsible thing to do, but it is also the progressive thing to do. However, we will act only at a pace our economy can bear, and not at the cost of services people need. Let me be clear: Labour is no party of extreme austerity. Our plans are fair, measured and sensible in the circumstances. They deal with our past, so we can invest in our future.
“Perhaps most importantly, we will address the underlying reason why tax receipts are low – if people aren’t earning much, they aren’t paying much in tax either. That is why we will reform our economy so hard work is rewarded and prosperity is shared.
“The Labour Party is the party of work and working people. Now, you can’t be in favour of better jobs if you are not also in favour of backing the businesses that create good jobs. So we are unashamedly pro-business, but I say to the Tories who waste no time is denigrating our trade unions at every turn, you can't be pro-business if you are continually beating up on the terms and conditions of working people and on the organisations that represent them. It is through all stakeholders – government, business and our trade unions – working together that we will build that better future.
“Ed Miliband could not have been clearer about our mission: to reduce insecurity, raise living standards and increase opportunity. The goal is better paid, more secure jobs. There is nothing inevitable about low pay and insecure employment, but first we need to make it possible for firms to pay higher wages. Only then is it right to require that we do.
“Our first task is to improve productivity in low-paying sectors, so firms can pay more. This will allow us to raise the minimum wage to £8 by 2019 and instead of wishing firms to pay a Living Wage, we will help make it possible for them to do so. Where they commit to paying the Living Wage, we will cut them some slack and give temporary tax breaks while they make the transition. No other party has matched these commitments.”
John Hannett – Usdaw General secretary says:
“Chuka was very well received by delegates who gave him a standing ovation for the commitments Labour are making to improve our members lives.
“Key policies like: Ending exploitative zero-hours contracts; making it illegal to use agency workers to undercut the wages of permanent employees with the so-called Swedish Derogation; scrapping the employment tribunal fees this government introduced and reform the system so that no one is denied access to justice.
“Chuka has today demonstrated just what is at stake at this election and the difference that Labour offers. We are fighting for a Labour Government because the outcome of this election will make a real difference to our members' lives.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 433,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For further information
please contact Usdaw’s Media Officer, David Williams on: 0161 249 2469, 07798 696 603 or by e-mail to[email protected]
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion