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GMB Presidents Address

Sunday, June 2, 2013

GMB President Warns GMB Congress That UKIP Is “Destructive And Divisive” And EU Referendum Is “Bribe”

UKIP’s policies are destructive and divisive - they will never be and can never be the party for working families and their policy is less tax for the rich and more cuts in public services says GMB President

GMB President Mary Turner delivered her Presidents address at the GMB Congress today in Plymouth. See text of speech in notes to editors.

GMB Congress, comprising of 500 lay member delegates, is underway in Plymouth Pavilions from Sunday 2nd to Thursday 6th June. These delegates have been elected to attend the GMB Congress to represent over 620,000 members in every part of the UK and Ireland and from every sector of the economy. Congress is the supreme policy making body in the union. Also attending will be 300 visitors and guests drawn mainly from GMB organized workplaces around the UK and Ireland.

Mary Turner, GMB President, said “UKIP’s policies are destructive and divisive - they will never be and can never be the party for working families and their policy is less tax for the rich and more cuts in public services.

Also the promise of an EU referendum is essentially a bribe. Be careful of the wolf in sheep’s clothes. Be careful of what you wish for.“


Contact: Kamaljeet Jandu GMB Equality and Inclusion Officer on 07956 237178 or GMB Press Office: 07921 289880 or 07974 251823. Photograph available from Andrew Wiard Photographer on 07973 219201 or




Congress, can I welcome all delegates, visitors, staff and exhibitors, to Plymouth, which we are so pleased to see back under labour control.


I'd particularly like to welcome all the first-time delegates, and we are delighted that there are so many of you.


Be assured that there will be a warm and friendly atmosphere inside this hall.


Once again we've got a packed agenda – reflecting the challenges facing:


· Our members

· Our public services

· Our living standards

· Our families hopes and prospects

· Our safety at work

· Our pensions, and our employment rights.


All of which this coalition government is threatening, slashing and burning.


Congress, i am proud to be president of the GMB, a powerful union, together we can take on any battle.


Congress hears it first


At congress 2011 Tom Watson MP spoke up about the phone hacking scandal and other dirty tricks and updated us last year.


Through his persistence and GMB support, the culture and media select committee pushed for the Leveson inquiry to be set up.


You will recall that a compromise on press regulation was finally reached at the eleventh hour in April.


At congress last year GMB members in dispute with Carillion at Swindon Great Western hospital came to speak to us, and their feet haven’t touched the ground since.


Their fight continues


We continue to be the lead union in highlighting the illegal corporate bullying that takes place due to blacklisting.


We have recently taken our blacklisting message to Europe to the Skanska headquarters.


You will have the opportunity to check whether you or anyone you know is on the blacklist.


I know about this first hand, as I too was on a blacklist, so I know what it does to the victims and their families.


GMB has led the way in exposing tax avoiders such as Starbucks and Amazon.

I remember we told Gordon Brown all about this before he even became prime minister.


The political report to congress last year gave us a more focused and determined political strategy which our national and regional political teams have been delivering.

We will hear more tomorrow


We have David Miliband’s resignation to thank for the proof that our political strategy is working.


We are so pleased that with our support, GMB member Emma Lewell Buck, a social worker and the first ever female MP for South Shields, was elected.


We are aiming to get more working class MP’s such as her in the ivory towers of Westminster.


Congress, last year I told you the tories were the nasty party, nothing has changed


Just some of things they have continued to do


· Continue to attack pensions

· Continue to close down Remploy factories

· Continue to cut welfare benefits

· Continue to cut our public services, schools, local government and health services


The one thing that I want them to cut is their throats


Unemployment continues to rise, especially youth unemployment


What sort of legacy do our young people have?


· No hope of getting a job

· No hope of paying back the rising nine thousand pound tuition fees.

As our members are being forced onto unemployment or forced onto benefits, this government makes it more difficult for them to qualify for these benefits.


Well you could say that the tick box organisation that checks work capability, “Atos” actually stands for







Congress those who know me, know that I like to include a musical reference in my speech.


Well how about


“ding dong the witch is dead”


Some talk of the legacy she left us with. But we know it’s no use crying over the spilt milk she denied our children


She actually left us with


· Privatisation of our health service and utilities

· Anti trade union legislation

· High unemployment

· The big bang deregulation of the banking system

· No steel or mining industry

· No manufacturing industry


Don’t forget she drove garment manufacturing abroad, and we can see the effects this has from the tragic events in Bangladesh.


Together with her friends they sold off our public assets,


Tesco’s heiress, Dame Shirley Porter, a great friend of Thatcher, sold off council homes and moved families into asbestos ridden flats, just for votes


Even our dead weren’t safe.


She sold our cemeteries for 5p and the land was sold off for housing.


Those of you who can remember Virginia Bottomley, whose name is actually an anagram of “i’m an evil tory bigot”, started the destruction of the NHS and her cousin, Jeremy Hunt, yes talk about about nepotism, is continuing in the family footsteps.


I’m sure you can think of another name for him.


They know nothing about the NHS.


Even Virginia Bottomley thought a tory MP was an intravenous drip!!


The very NHS that we celebrated at the Olympics opening ceremony is being dismantled brick by brick.


This government is trying to take the national out of the NHS, they are trying to privatise anything they can lay their hands on.


Hospital and A&E closures are forcing our members into unemployment or more stressful jobs.


It was great to see so many of you at the NHS march last month and i was also so proud to see a great GMB presence at the TUC march last October


We must continue to fight for

· Our NHS,

· Our hospitals

· And to keep the A&E and maternity departments open.


And I’ve got a message for all our MP’s and councillors: you too should be there marching shoulder to shoulder with our members and the community


Vital services are being slashed to the bone with further cuts to the police and fire services and stations.


I could go on but as you can see this lot aren’t any better,

Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and now Farage.

To carry on my horsey theme about the coalition we could call them the four horsemen of the apocalypse or you could say “a cock-up a lips”


“We’re all in this together”!!! Well I don’t think so!!


They attack vulnerable, working people who bear the brunt of benefit and tax changes.


Families are being forced out of their homes by the bedroom tax, communities are being destroyed


While Gideon Osborne gives his millionaire friends, tax breaks worth fifty-four thousand pounds


His gift to the rich is a raid on the poor, the average family is nearly nine hundred pounds worse off because of cuts.



From this April the poorest ten per cent are losing one hundred and twenty seven pounds on average, while the richest ten per cent gain ten times that.


Thatcher once said this lady is not for turning, well this lot have had more u-turns than a dodgy plumber

o Plans to cut flood defences were scrapped

o Plans to give consumers the lowest energy tariff was discovered to be unworkable

o The decision to award west coast mainline franchise to first group was scrapped

o Plans to limit payments to victims of minor assaults were scrapped


Even their own party votes against them:

· Gay marriage,

· EU budget vote,

· Plans to reform the House of Lords


Congress beware the rise and dangers of supporting UKIP.


Their flagship policy to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights is flawed.


The ECHR has guaranteed many working rights which we take for granted such as

· Equal pay and

· Sex discrimination.


And congress it is essential that we remain part of Europe.


Many of the rights we enjoy today originated from Europe.


Never under-estimate how powerful the EU is at


· Protecting GMB members and their families.

· Protecting agency workers and giving them the same rights as permanent staff;

· Guaranteeing paid holidays and

· Ensuring that employers can no longer demand more than a 48 hour working week


These have all come from Europe.

Sadly one thing that is returning from Europe is Stephen Hughes, a man of integrity and a man who cared deeply about the working class

UKIP’s policies are destructive and divisive - they will never be and can never be the party for working families and their policy is less tax for the rich and more cuts in public services.


Also the promise of a referendum is essentially a bribe, be careful of the wolf in sheep’s clothes. Be careful of what you wish for.


Congress, your basic employment rights that unions fought for throughout the last century are in danger. In the last 12 months this government are putting our rights at work up for sale.


There have been

· Cuts to trade union facility time

· Cuts to legal aid

· Cuts to employment tribunals

· Cuts to redundancy consultation


Pensioners are being targeted, Iain Duncan Smith’s great idea that wealthy pensioners could hand back their winter fuel allowances and free TV licences and bus passes is ridiculous, he is on another planet.


This would achieve little and would turn the young against the old and the rich against the poor.


A warning, be assured that their intention is to take these away completely.


Remember when the government removed subsidised travel for the over 60’s and disabled well surprise surprise, it backfired on national express, people made nearly 1 million less journeys, which just goes to prove that

“you canne shove your granny off a bus”


Congress, it was a great honour to receive the TUC women’s gold badge and I’m proud to be included as one of the women who helped shape our union.


General Secretary, you know as well as I do, behind every great man there stands a great woman.


And I would like to compliment Pat Kenny for her patience and endurance and welcome her back.


We are proud that half our union is female, and proud of the fantastic work our women members, stewards and officers do.


So congress it is only right that this year one of our special reports looks at the representation of women in GMB and plans to progress women through the organisation. You will hear more about this project later this morning.


Congress, we have some very important debates this week


You will get a chance to

· Hear and question Andy Burnham and Owen Jones

· Hear about the effects of the benefit cuts from Alison Garnham from the CPAG and

· Hear from Margaret Aspinall, who speaks for Hillsborough families who never gave up their fight for justice


You will also hear updates on


· Blacklisting

· The living wage

· Public services

· All our key campaigns.


So I do hope that you enjoy all aspects of congress.


Use this time to make new friends.


Revitalise your fighting spirit.


And find out more about what is happening in our great union, the GMB.


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