I don’t have to reminisce about my days growing up in a working class family to show my socialist credentials. I can’t discuss mining towns or seamstresses in my family but I can say that my father was a builder and my mum mostly stayed at home and did a cleaning job for a while.
However the reason I don’t have to reminisce is because I am living that life now. I am working class and I am one of the lucky ones who has actually lived in council accommodation all my life. I say lucky because I know my children have no chance of getting council housing, nor do thousands of others in London .
I have always lived in a flat, growing up on the eleventh floor of a tower block with the stuning views of London it gave me. Those have certainly changed over the years. As has the block. I now live in a flat , again not ground floor which I love and have been in the process of decorating for many years. Perhaps if I stopped writing on here I would get some done – but I digress.
The reason I explain all this is because despite my background I have never really got on board with the whole Union thing. I was a teenager during the miners strike ( don’t worry I am not going to say I had my political awakening them) . In fact to be honest it might as well been happening a million miles away for all I cared. We were in London. We believed the news. The only connection I had was that Arthur Scargill’s surname sounded similar to mine so being asked if he was my dad was a regular joke. Hilarious.
So I will be totally honest here. My understanding of unions came from “carry on at your convenience” and “the rag trade” on television. it also came from the news, the press and the conversations I heard from people annoyed because the tubes were not running. So I cannot say that I was one of the trendy ones who wore Union badges and went on marches. When I was a teenager if it did not involve Paul Young I really wasn’t interested.
I see things differently now. And it is only seeing where we are now in terms of workers rights that I can see how important they are.
Zero hour contracts. My teenage son was on one of those. Some weeks he would be working all hours and the next nothing. So he does not know what his salary will be from one payday to the next. he cannot get cheaper travel through buying a travel card or monthly travel pass as he may not actually use it enough to make it worthwhile. He can’t really make plans either for spending or activities. It’s a sort of limbo job where it’s there but not quite.
For a teenage boy at home well he won’t go hungry. But this is the story for so many people in this country and it includes those who have to pay bills, feed families and survive without the ability to budget.
This has to be looked at seriously, with an understanding of how it affects people and communities. The flippant one hour contract comment by Owen Smith spoke volumes. He is paying lip service to an issue but he will not go against anything that supports capitalism and business to stand up for workers rights.
I strongly believe that the only way to change this is to change politics itself. To change the constant derision of the unions and what they actually stand for. Working people need a voice which is backed by hundreds more in union support. Workers need those who fight their corner, who understand what they are going through and who can highlight how we can change things.
The Labour Party , under Jeremy’s leadership have set up an initiative to ask questions of those most affected on what needs to be changed and how things can be improved for workers. Workplace 2020 was launched last May and whilst its website is currently under construction you can sign up for updates. This is something that should be talked about and shared as it is showing how our Labour Leader wants to hear the views of workers and actually listen and act on them. We cannot rely on businesses and companies to make the changes needed. We cannot rely on this government to put pressure on those who fail to care for their employees. We could not rely on a Labour Party lead by Owen Smith or any of his Labourist allies to take things into hand.
Only a socialist leader would stand firm on the side of the workers. And only a Labour Party lead by such a leader can get the job done.
And as for Unions, well I am now a union member. You can join the community membership scheme run by Unite. You do not have to be employed to join. It is fully behind Jeremy and the more who join the stronger that voice will become. It may have taken me a while but when I look at how workers are being treated now I will fight and support any Union taking the government to task. And I will back Jeremy in his support and promotion of them in order to change the lives of the working class.
the ones living it not embellishing it for political gain .