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Labour needs to “get a spine” and stand up for working people, the general secretary of the Unite union has said.
Sharon Graham told Keir Starmer he is more likely to win the next election if he did more to back workers seeking pay rises as employers make big profits.
“There isn’t really a very strong voice for workers in parliament currently,” she told BBC Radio 4′s Broadcasting House on Sunday.
“It is more likely they (Labour) would get elected more if they spoke up for workers more.”
“I think that if they came out now strongly and said `hang on a second, these abhorrent profits that are going on and what’s happening with the cost of living, this is what we think should happen’ – then I think they would very much get elected.
“From my point of view, I think we are doing Labour a favour actually by saying `look, get a spine, stick up for workers’. Graham told the programme “you cannot defend workers by being silent”.
Starmer has been under pressure from unions and Labour’s left to do more to show support for striking workers across the country.
The party has been embroiled in an internal row over whether MPs and members of the frontbench should be allowed to join workers on the picket line.
Starmer has said Labour needs to move away from being a “party of protest” and instead act like a “government in waiting” with an emphasis on negotiating with unions.
Speaking this morning, Pat McFadden, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said he did not support a general strike but understands why people are pressing for pay increases.
“Our call on government ministers would be to stop being an absent government and to help resolve these disputes to ensure that people get a decent pay rise, but to do that around the negotiating table,” he told Sky News.
“Nobody wants to see industrial action but it is understandable why people at work want a decent pay rise given the inflationary pressures that they’re feeling right now.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.