We present for reference and discussion motion 2.1 of the People's Assembly Conference 2014, including the People's Charter for Change 2014. This text is based on that of the compiled motions published online.
Please also see the original People's Charter, previously adopted by the TUC Annual Congress 2009.
2.1. PA Signatories' Committee statement of policy aims
People's Assembly Steering Group proposes the following statement of aims based on its endorsement of the People's Charter, as widely supported by the trade union movement since 2008.
People's Charter for Change 2014 statement
We need a government to reverse damaging austerity, and replace it with a new set of policies providing us with a fair, sustainable and secure future. We can no longer tolerate politicians looking out for themselves and for the rich and powerful. Our political representatives must start governing in the interests of the majority in the direction outlined by this statement of aims.
1. A fairer economy for a fairer Britain
The amount of wealth that is spent on wages and incomes has generally been declining as a proportion of GDP since the 1980s. Since 2008, 90% of incomes have faced severe reductions. It must be a top priority of any new government to reverse this trend and to measure progress, year on year, in the name of every citizen.
Most now agree that wealth is unfairly distributed. Those with great wealth disagree. These are the financiers, bankers, big capitalists and their top managers whose profit system brought the world to the brink of meltdown in 2008. The gap between the rich and the rest is now greater in the UK than at any time since the mid-nineteenth century. A new government must challenge this by progressive tax reform and repatriation of the vast wealth held in tax havens.
The City of London has led the British economy into its greatest disaster since the 1930s. The government spent our money saving the banks from ruin. Rather than selling banks back to the people who nearly destroyed the country any new government should consolidate all current banking institutions into a new publicly owned banking system, which makes long term investment in future technology and green production. This means defending pensions funds and repudiating all the US and EU agreements to force open public services to private gain.
A million young people are unemployed and face a bleak future. Any new government needs to set up a national scheme providing real jobs on full wages with work-based training. Further and higher education should be free.
2. More and better jobs
While the crisis continues any new government needs to protect existing jobs and intervene to ensure full employment. All work should attract at least the Living Wage, which will be legislated as the new minimum wage, regardless of age, accompanied by guaranteed holiday and pension provision. Zero-hour contracts should be banned.
New technology and green production should guide general economic development in the interests of the majority of the people. The workforce must be a key participant in the direction of economic activity. Financial support for collective and community-based enterprises can open out new types of production, distribution and services, providing a different model to corporate domination, rooted in new principles of common and social ownership spreading throughout the economy.
3. High standard homes for all
A new government needs a two-part emergency plan to address the housing crisis.
- A programme to build at least 250,000 new social homes a year (see 2011 census) and to refurbish existing housing stock.
- To reform the private and public rented sector using rent controls and the implementation of national standards of accommodation and security of tenure.
It is a priority to expand community owned and managed social housing, through co-operatives, tenant management organisations and community land trusts. The bedroom tax must be abolished.
4. Protect and improve public services
The involvement of private companies in public utilities and services has created a terrible mess for the majority and any new government must reverse this damage. The privatisation policy is designed to create profit, not serve the people. The people as a whole should own energy, post, telecommunications, water and transport – with profits ploughed back into
Profit making is the wrong principle for developing health, education and social services. It leads to postcode lotteries for treatment, uneven and unfair access to education and poorly maintained and managed social services, as well as being vastly more costly (e.g. transaction costs in the NHS have risen from 7% to 12% since private companies got more involved and are rising rapidly: the figure in the US is 35%).
5. For fairness and justice
A new government needs to establish an agreed national proportion of not more than 5 to 1 between the size of top incomes and the median wage and salaries and join the Swiss people's attempt to abolish poverty by supporting the 'Citizens' Initiative for an unconditional basic income.'
Unions need to be freed to be able to act in defence of members' rights and conditions, to be able to bargain collectively and nationally in the fight against poverty, and to be able to campaign for political, economic and social change if needed.
Disabled citizens must have automatic and autonomous access to the full rights of any other citizen, including access to work, transport etc.
Women in particular bear the brunt of austerity, both in work and in managing the fallout of cuts to services in communities. The over-representation of women among both the poor and the lowest paid must be treated as the national emergency it is. Equal pay must be enforced and childcare should be free at the point of need.
Any new government should lead the challenge to all attempts to scapegoat immigrant workers for inequality, poverty or limits to public resources.
All state benefits and pensions should be tied to inflation and start at Living Wage levels. Pension age should be fixed between unions and employers depending on the character of the job, with a maximum legal limit of 65.
6. For a secure and sustainable future
The dramatic damage to our world, our climate and weather stems from the same sources as international poverty and war. Brutal greed and the search for profit at all costs must be replaced by investment in a sustainable future.
Any new government must start by a public audit of all debt, cancelling of the debt of the poor of the planet and getting rid of the debt economy in Britain and abroad. This implies serious financial regulation and a transaction tax on the international movement of capital and wealth by banks and corporations.
Government must end the cost of war in blood and money. Bring the troops home. Don't waste billions on a new generation of nuclear weapons and scrap Trident's replacement as called for by CND.
The People's Assembly resolves to:
- Approve and adopt the People's Charter as previously endorsed by a wide range of trade union and progressive movement organisations. The Assembly further agrees to the People's Charter for Change 2014 which applies the principles of the charter for 2014, up to the next People's Assembly conference.