Sian Berry conference speech

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry has today hit out at the government’s treatment of key workers during the Covid crisis. She accused health secretary Matt Hancock of leaving key workers “exposed” to coronavirus and attacked chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak for “ignoring nurses who need a pay rise”.

Berry made the remarks as part of her speech to the party’s conference taking place virtually this weekend.

Speaking to conference attendees, Berry said:

Matt Hancock: you don’t protect the future by leaving our most exposed key workers – teachers, bus drivers, police officers and shop workers – at work without vaccines.

She continued by criticising Sunak’s budget that was announced on Wednesday March 3.

Rishi Sunak: you don’t build a better future by forgetting those who have kept the country going this past year. By ignoring nurses who need a pay rise.

By leaving councils in debt, unable to pay for the step change in social care that we all need in place. By leaving renters with no new help, in arrears debt and fearing for their homes.

The government has faced mounting criticism for its decision to grant a pay rise of just 1 per cent to nurses. The Royal College of Nurses (RCN) has described the government’s plan as “pitiful”, demanding a 12.5 per cent rise. The RCN is also understood to be considering balloting members for strike action over the decision.

Berry’s plans for London

Berry’s speech also made reference to her bid to become the next Mayor of London, highlighting some of the key policies making up her election platform. She said:

We started with our plans to deprioritise the policing of cannabis, to build an anti-racist city, and to make London an exemplary trans-inclusive city.

We have put forward designs for the best ever bus stops, announced an Elders Champion, set a target for zero road deaths, promised a London Living Wage of £14 an hour, so that people earn what they need to get by.

And we’ve set out our plans for People’s Land Commission, and found immediate new funding for 2,000 key worker homes in the amendment Caroline Russell and I put to the Mayor’s budget.

“We stand for a just transition”

Berry then concluded her remarks with a call for people to join the Green Party, describing the principles behind the party’s policies. Berry said:

And today, conference, I’ve also got a simple message for you to pass on to anyone who isn’t already a member of the Green Party: Join us today!

We’ll stand for the principle of freedom of movement, peace, and the European ideals. We stand for a just transition in acting on the climate. We stand with every key worker, every teacher, every vital worker who has put themselves at risk in the pandemic, many on poverty pay. We stand with every migrant, everyone who has lost their job. And every young person who wants to be part of fixing their future with us.

The Green Party’s conference is set to conclude on Sunday. Members will be debating a series of motions on topics including ensuring workers are placed at the forefront of the party’s policies on climate change, a wealth tax as a means of delivering post-Covid economic recovery, and the rights for trans people to be able to legally determine their own gender.

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