This week is #HeartUnions week, and in our part of the world, we have plenty to be thankful to our trade unions for.

Greater Manchester has a proud tradition of trade unionism, from Peterloo, to the Chartists, to the founding of the Trade Union Congress, we have always been a powerhouse for working people standing up for their rights.

So much of what we take for granted in modern life, such as paid holiday, sick leave, the working week, have been secured thanks to hard fought battles by our trade union movement.

But in the 21st century, with the world of work rapidly evolving around us all the time, trade unions are more important than ever.

Workplaces and working practices don’t look the same now as they did five years ago, let alone 10 or 20 years ago, and it is vital that the trade union movement continues to evolve alongside.

We only need to look at some of the pioneering deals that have been done in the gig-economy by my own union, the GMB, with Uber and Deliveroo, to provide much needed rights and protections for workers.

Far from being stuck in the past, trade unions are so often at the forefront of pioneering change, ensuring hard fought victories are not left behind by the rapidly developing world workers find themselves in.

The kind of partnerships we have seen developed in recent years show what can be achieved through positive engagement on all sides.

Sadly, that isn’t a spirit we have seen much of from the Conservative Party over the last 14 years.

Rather than engage in constructive negotiation, they have spent their time sniping from the side-lines.

Whether the junior doctors strike, or rail strikes, the way to make progress is by getting round a table and negotiating, not trying to drag things into the gutter.

Working people who are standing up for their rights should not be used as pawns in the petty political game this government is playing.

It’s why I’m so proud of the Labour Party’s historic links with the trade union movement, which are as important now as they have ever been.

The next Labour government won’t relentlessly attack unions as the Tories have done, we will work constructively with them to change the lives of working people across this country for the better.

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