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I WAS asked by one delegate this week as to whether we should be at Unite sector conference or whether we should be out door-knocking. A fantastic question, but delivered by a convinced activist who will fight for Labour come what may.
Of course my answer was that the sector conferences are vital and never more so than when a general election is imminent.
My opportunity this week has been to persuade our sector activists that now is the time to go that extra yard, to fight with everything they have to achieve a Labour government. To persuade those less convinced that we simply cannot afford to lose this election; that political demands and industrial demands coexist.
Of course each of Unite’s sectors presents different challenges.
Those sectors where the membership is in our heartlands, the Midlands, the north of England, south Wales, worry that many of our members are so focused on the Brexit question that to talk of Labour’s transformative workers’ agenda feels nigh on impossible.
And then those members from Scotland feel that the question of independence and the populist narrative of the SNP drowns out a wider workers’ debate.
But the need for Labour has never been so compelling as now.
Politics cuts through everything we do.
As trade unionists we know that a Johnson government will seek to finish the Thatcher job. The Tories desperately seek the end of the trade union movement, knowing the mortal damage this will deliver to the Labour Party.
Whereas a Labour government will see employment rights from day one, an end to our young being paid less because of their age, sector bargaining and a decision-making seat for workers on the boards of the largest companies. All delivered by the inspirational Laura Pidcock.
But this week we have taken the approach of appealing to each sector on the issues that matter to their members.
If you are a construction worker then Labour will end bogus self-employed status.
If you are in manufacturing then Labour will use procurement to safeguard your jobs and create 450,000 new jobs to tackle climate change.
If you are working in the NHS then Labour will end privatisation and properly invest in our futures.
If you are cabin crew then Labour will never allow Thomas Cook to happen again.
If you are in hospitality then Labour will end zero-hours contracts.
If you work in transport Labour will bring rail back into public ownership and end the abuses allowed by outsourcing and a race to the bottom.
And the list of policies for social justice is breathtaking. Labour will bring in free child care for two to four-year-olds, return Sure Start, build half a million council homes, bring in free personal care for the elderly, scrap tuition fees and scrap universal credit.
This is what we are fighting for, the fight has never been so important, the prize has never meant more.
So my plea to all this week has been simple.
Do not allow Brexit to define and divide us.
Fight for your industrial sector.
Fight for social justice.
Fight for a future for the next generation.
Fight for a truly transformative Labour government.
Howard Beckett is Unite assistant general secretary for politics and legal.
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