This weekend brings 200 trade union delegates to the city of York for the annual general meeting of Yorkshire and the Humber region of the TUC.
The agenda will see debates on the economy, on cuts in public services, reductions in employment rights, attacks on welfare and the NHS and the austerity imposed on the people by an out-of-touch, uncaring government to pay for the mistakes of the banks, financial institutions and others in their attempt to get mega-rich quick.
Working people and many vulnerable groups have suffered far more than the richest in society and borne the brunt of a government programme determined to roll back the welfare state and encourage private enterprise to take over the running of state services.
Because of spending cuts there are now 60,000 fewer public-sector workers in the region. Pay has been frozen for three years leading to a catastrophic fall in demand.
Most towns and cities in the region have seen many high-profile companies go down the insolvency route, leading to further economic decline and loss of confidence - HMV, Woolworths and Comet, to name just a few.
With reduced bank lending to small business and large firms unwilling to invest, fearing there is no demand for the goods and services they supply, Yorkshire and the Humber is now in the top two regions in the country for unemployment.
On top of falling wages, we have seen many unemployed people unable to find work, many people in work underemployed and tens of thousands either forced into self-employment or working on a casual basis on very low rates of pay, sometimes at the beck and call of the employer on an hourly basis.
This is no way to run an economy.
A large proportion of the workers affected have been women, with bad employers calling for changes to maternity rights, cuts in childcare and Sure Start schemes.
And because women are more likely to be carers as well as workers, changes to social care and other services for the elderly have had a huge impact on women.
Attacks on workers' rights are also on the increase.
Fees for bringing a case to a tribunal have been introduced - a real problem for unorganised workers. Consultation periods for redundancy have been cut. And talk of encouraging workers to give up their statutory rights in return for shares is meant to undermine any collective co-operation in the workplace.
Welfare benefits have been capped and in-work benefits have been cut, meaning that people in low-paid jobs will now be worse off. So much for encouraging people to work instead of shirk.
Constant attacks on so-called shirkers - the unemployed, the disabled - have caused division in many communities that have been hit hard by the recession and where there are very few job opportunities.
In Hull there are now 14 people chasing every job. Together with massive rises in university and college fees this has led to massive unemployment among the 16 to 24-year-old age group, a wasted generation.
Well, some may say, what are the trade unions going to do about it all?
This weekend we will be forming our annual work plan.
We will be arguing and campaigning for investment in the region to boost economic growth. Clean coal technology will not only reduce carbon emissions but would be a fantastic export opportunity, the very thing this government keeps talking about.
Green energy and fuel efficiency could be abundant across the region. Our coastline and weather are great natural assets crying out for investment and certainty in this crucial policy area. And we need a massive house-building programme to house our people to decent standards.
All this could be achieved through long-term investment. Putting people back to work must be more cost-effective than paying out welfare. These measures would restore confidence, get people spending again, give hope to our young people for a fairer future.
Our aim this weekend is to organise ourselves into a united campaigning body, able to influence the decision-makers through the political and economic process.
We stand ready to play our part in rebuilding our economy. We need good, well-paid, high-skilled jobs so the region can contribute to the growth of both the regional and national economic well-being.
Rebalancing the economy is important, but investment is key to stimulate that dream and if we are ever going to go forward to producing our way out of debt then we need a new fairer economy, strong unions with a voice in the workplace, genuine equality and a strong welfare system with good benefits.
So this weekend we will be united. We will be energised and determined to take our representation of workers and their communities forward in a progressive and positive way.
We will do our utmost to protect the vulnerable in work and out of work against policies imposed upon them by a group of mainly public-school educated, very rich, mainly white men committed to rolling back the whole fabric of society across the country.
There has never been a more important time to be a member of a trade union. Our founding fathers were deported for forming unions. It is now time for us to show similar bravery and unite to force a change for good for everyone.
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