Standing with our essential workers #StandingTogether22

As delivered to Community’s Biennial Delegate Conference in Belfast on June 1st 2022.

Conference, Nick Dewhirst, speaking on Composition K on behalf of the National Executive. The NEC is proud, indeed could not be prouder, to back this composite motion.

I want to start by paying tribute to every one of our members who helped to ensure that vital services continued to operate during the pandemic.

Many of you will be here today: justice sector workers, who could not work from home, who kept our prisons operating; logistics sector workers who ensured our supply chain continued to function; third sector workers who supported people feeling the harshest impacts of the pandemic. I could go on and on.

Often you have been unrecognised – acting as our country’s forgotten emergency service. But Community recognises you, and we see your contribution. Thank you from me, from everyone here.

The National Executive also want to offer our sincere condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one through this dreadful pandemic. We understand that nothing will ever be able to bring them back or fill the gap their absence will leave in your life, but know there are tens of thousands of people in your union here to support you, however you may need it.

We also want to offer special commendation to those working in faith communities, for the valuable support they have offered the bereaved.

Finally, as a union, we utterly condemn the actions of Boris Johnson, and anyone in government who partied as people followed the rules.

For many of us, 2020 was a year of zoom calls, enforced isolation, being unable to visit friends and relatives. For the unluckiest amongst us, it meant not being able to visit sick loved ones in hospital, or limited numbers at funerals. None of us wanted to do this, but we understood that they were necessary measures to keep others safe and slow the spread of the virus as we developed a vaccine.

Meanwhile, at 10 Downing street, they partied. This is nothing less than an insult to everyone who sacrificed, and everyone who lost. Conference – it’s just wrong.

But enough about the liars and Etonians meant to be running the country.

Who’s really running the country, making it tick, propelling us forwards? That’s working people, Community members up and down the country. The people I mentioned earlier from third sector works to prison officers and my colleagues in the logistics sector. And how do we do it? By standing together – we stood together throughout the pandemic, and it is through standing together that we were able to get through it.

I hope you all join me, and your National Executive Committee, in mourning those that we’ve lost, and pledging to fight for a better future for those still here. Thank you.

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