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In a speech to the Durham miners' gala at the weekend, Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of Unison, said: 'The...
In a speech to the Durham miners' gala at the weekend, Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of Unison, said: 'The message we send to the government is: ignore public service workers at your peril. We are the workers who kept educating children, caring for the elderly, emptying bins, keeping parks looking good and even digging graves over the terrible Tory years.

'We have our own manifesto - and it's for the public services. It's a manifesto to beat poverty. In partnership with local people, with the unions and yes, even with the government, we want to give the people the quality services they want, when they want them, where they want them, delivered by well-paid, dedicated, motivated public service workers, not private contractors making millions out of people's misery.

'The money is there. Billions of pounds from the sale of mobile phone licences. Billions of pounds in Treasury coffers from money saved off working people like our members. People need it now, not in 10 or 20 years' time. Pensioners cannot wait, children in poverty cannot wait, the low-paid cannot wait.

'Tony, Gordon ... you have the chance to show your real commitment to all of Britain, by using that money to rebuild our services. You may squander your chances at the next election if you keep you purse tight shut.

'We and our members helped put the government where it is. We believed it shared our aims and values. And we think it is high time for action. I'm not talking about favours, I'm talking about fairness. We cannot live with slick jargon, or with false promises. We cannot live with double accounting. We won't be fobbed off with spin.

'It wasn't just middle England that delivered Labour the 1997 election victory. We, too, have delivered for you, Tony. It's now time that you delivered for us.'

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