Toni gave 2 speeches at conference - the first was about the cuts to Sure Start, which Toni said, are part of the ConDems ideological attack on the welfare state. We need to be inspired by the strikes on June 30th, when public sector workers will be striking in defence of jobs, services and pensions. The revolutions in the Middle East show that working people can control their governments and their lives. If they can win, so can we.
In the second speech Toni spoke about how the working class were rejecting David Cameron's attempts to privatise the NHS and set up academies. The students have come out against the rise in tuition fees, the public have rejected the attacks on the NHS and now public sector unions are leading the fight on pensions, and every fight has made the government weaker.
She said that we are seeing more people join UNISON now because we are committed to fighting the Tories to defend our jobs, services and pensions. She went on to say that this was a weak and crumbling government. They have made the mistake of declaring war on the public sector. They have asked for a fight and they will get one. One which they will lose and we will win.
Pat also gave two speeches at conference. In her first speech, Pat informed conference that thousands of pensioners live well below the poverty line and the government bragging about how it has raised the pension, this is nonsense. “There may well have been a £6 a week rise, but my rent has just gone up and has completely swallowed that” fumed Pat. She added: "Twenty Five thousand pensioners died from cold related illnesses last year and with the government planning to cut the winter fuel allowance, up to 40,000 could die this year. It would be quicker and less painful to put a bullet in our heads”. (Pat also said that on Birmingham local radio, leaving thousands of midlanders choking on their cornflakes).
Pat concluded: “The public have to understand that the reality of state pensions – it is a crime against humanity. I have to come to conference every year to save on my fuel bills. I was in Blackpool last week and I wonder where I will be next week. I think that we should arrange conference in winter so we oaps would save even more.”
Pat's second speech was on composite D - Saving the NHS. Pat spoke on behalf of retired members, pointing out the particular interest pensioners have in keeping the NHS as they tend to be the biggest users.
A lot of retired members can remember when you had to pay before seeing a doctor. This meant many who could not afford it would have to suffer, sometimes with fatal consequences.
The NHS is too precious to be slashed by the fat cats who can afford to pay, while the likes of all the Pensioners, delegates and visitors who provide our public services would be made to suffer.
The amendment from the retired members committee was to urge branches to make full use of their retired members as they are a valuable resource. Many have been branch officers and stewards. They have a wealth of experience to offer!!!