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UNIONS will fight “all the way” for the workers whose lives have been wrecked by the government’s handling of the Windrush scandal, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis pledged today.
He pointed out that Unison member Michael Braithwaite had lost his job as a special needs assistant after the school he was working at decided he was an illegal immigrant despite arriving in Britain in 1961.
“This government has torn apart lives — it has humiliated caring people like Michael, it has deprived people like Michael of their pride," he told the union’s annual conference in Brighton.
“Michael broke no law, but the law tried to break him.
“Not on our watch — we will fight them all the way.
“I say, on behalf of conference, Michael — this country is your home. But, much more importantly, this union is your home.”
Turning to the NHS, Mr Prentis called on Prime Minister Theresa May to either fund the health service properly or call a general election.
He branded Ms May's pledge of extra cash for the NHS a “lie,” saying: “The funding she’s offered just isn’t enough.
“We’re not taken in by shoddy rhetoric about Brexit dividends. They’re not worth the buses they’re written on.
“Our message to Theresa May is this — fund our NHS and all our public services or call an election and we’ll elect a government that will.”
Mr Prentis praised Labour’s 2017 election manifesto, committing to ending private finance initiatives (PFI), repealing the Trade Union Act and reopening Sure Start centres.
He said: “We want this done in the first year of a Labour government, not delayed to a second term.”
Mr Prentis said it would be easy to afford the measure if Britain stops handing money to PFI firms “ripping us off like the vulture capitalists of Carillion.”
He stormed: “Close the tax havens that bleed us dry and stop spending billions on weapons of mass destruction when our public services are in crisis — yes, let’s scrap Trident.”
Mr Prentis paid particular tribute to union members who took on the “absolutely grotesque injustice” of employment tribunal fees, which were found in summer 2017 to have broken British and European law.
And he cheered on Jeremy Corbyn, a Unison member, for returning Labour to being a “party with socialism at its core,” urging members to be “bold, confident, and ambitious” for the “highs and lows” that lie ahead.
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