‘Government has turned its back on working people’: Trade unions react to King’s speech

“gimmicks, division, and more of the same.”

King Charles

Today the government laid out its plans for the next year in the King’s Speech, likely the last before the general election.

There are no shortage of crises facing the country, from rising levels of inequality and poverty, to the cost of living crisis, climate emergency and underfunded public services crying out for investment, to name but a few. Yet if you thought that the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead would include bold and radical ideas to deal with any of the aforementioned problems, then you’ll be left disappointed.

For not only did the Tories fail to rise to the challenge, they chose as Keir Starmer put it so aptly, to offer only “gimmicks, division, and more of the same.”

There was nothing from the government on how to improve struggling public services, as Sunak chose to focus instead on a tough approach to criminal justice while also ignoring the climate emergency, announcing an annual system for awarding oil and gas licences.

Here’s how some of the trade unions reacted to the King’s Speech.

TUC: Government has ‘turned its back on working people’

The TUC said that the King’s Speech showed that the government had ‘turned its back on working people’.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “This is a desperate last throw of the dice from the Conservatives. There is nothing in today’s King’s speech to fix the country’s problems – just cheap electioneering.

“Ministers have turned their back on working people.

“Having promised numerous times to bring forward an employment bill to tackle insecure work – the Tories have junked this promise and are now attacking people’s fundamental right to strike.

“Instead of fixing our crumbling public services the government is trying to blame paramedics, teachers and other key workers for their failures.

“And with families across the country facing a cost of living crisis, rowing back on net-zero commitments will do nothing to bring down bills or to deliver better jobs and pay.

“We can’t go on like this. The Conservatives have broken Britain.”

Unison: ‘A government out of ideas’

Unison said that the King’s speech showed that this is a government that is ‘all out of ideas’, as it slammed the Tories for having ‘nothing left to offer’.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “This is a government with nothing left to offer. There was little announced today that will make the slightest bit of difference to the many real and deep-seated problems the country faces.

“This is a legislative programme heavy on cheap political points, but light on policies to right the wrongs of years of foolhardy austerity. Conservative governments’ neglect and underfunding of public services have harmed the economy and everyone’s the poorest they’ve ever felt.

“More than four years since the Conservatives promised to fix social care, it doesn’t even get a mention. There’s still no plan to end the crisis and give millions of desperate people comfort for the future.

“Instead, the government’s wasting time and energy attacking unions. Pathetic assaults on the right to strike are against working people and aren’t popular.

“Ministers could do well to remember that more than six million union members will be voting at the next election. This is clearly a government that already knows it’s out of time.”

Unite: ‘King’s speech fails to deliver on what is so urgently needed’

Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, commenting on the King’s speech said: “Unite’s polling has shown that Britain is crying out for a government agenda that puts people before profits and looks to rebuild industries and communities that have been neglected for too long. This King’s Speech totally fails to deliver on what is so urgently needed.

“Instead of looking to ensure the public has a financial interest in our national assets, like steel and energy, or looking to protect workers from the threat of AI or nefarious employment practices, this government is doing nothing to improve our economy for workers and their families.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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