TUC Congress: Sharon Graham blasts ‘timid’ politicians in call for public ownership of energy

"The challenges we face are just too big to leave to the timid”

Sharon Graham blasted ‘timid’ politicians as she called for bolder political action against the ‘unprecedented’ scale of ‘rampant profiteering’, in her case for a public, democratic ownership of energy.

Pushing a motion calling to ‘unplug the profiteers’, the Unite general secretary made the case for a public energy sector by laying into the political choice to privatise the energy sector and its devastating consequences.

The motion, forwarded by Unite the Union at the TUC Congress, called for delegates to support a full public, democratic ownership of the energy network in the interests of workers.

It also calls for unions to recommit to a strategy of defending and extending collective bargaining as the primary way workers can challenge profiteering and economic inequality for ourselves. The motion was carried by conference delegates.

Graham blasted energy privatization for “crippling” communities and the energy industry, with the Tory government’s economic record and “clear choices” in favour of private business and profit.

“We’re not taking any lessons from the pied pipers of the establishment, because it wasn’t wages pushing up inflation, it was rampant profiteering on an unprecedented scale,” slammed Graham. 

“In no sector was this more evident than energy, a broken market that chose to swallow £45 billion in profit rather than cut household bills.

“The price hikes delivered a toxic double whammy of rising costs and pay cuts.

“There were clear choices, there are clear choices, energy privatisation has failed pure and simple. It has crippled our communities and what remains of our industrial base.

“There is only one credible answer, we need to take our energy back into public hands.”

Graham’s warning to Labour

Graham has been clear on her criticism of Keir Starmer’s approach to workers’ rights and didn’t hold back in her speech.

“Some say, that we should not push Labour now, that they’ll be all right on the night. But Congress we have been down this road before,” started Graham.

“With the rowing back of workers’ rights, I’m not in a very trusting mood. The challenges we face are just too big to leave to the timid. Workers can’t wait and if politicians can’t do what is required then we have to take action ourselves and become a real workers’ movement.”

She added: “So our influence isn’t just weighed in the money but also in the policies we propose. Lets stop the prestige for long-term opportunities, let us be the change that we so often demand of others. Lets rise up together.”

(Photo credit: Screenshot / TUC Congress)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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