Mike Black for Castle
City Candidate for Castle
I was born in Cambridge and have lived here all my life, apart from 3 years studying history at Nottingham University. I remember my father taking me up Castle Mound to look over Cambridge when I was very young, an experience many Cambridge citizens have had and one that the Tory-run County Council wants to make impossible.
My Grandparents lived in council houses in Cambridge and Great Shelford, and I am proud that Cambridge Labour Party is delivering an ambitious council housebuilding programme to deliver over 540 new council homes by 2022 and a further 1000 over the course of the next decade. I have been a keen Cambridge United supporter ever since watching their first League victory against Oldham Athletic, and am currently employed as a punt chauffeur giving guided tours on the River Cam.
I spent most of my career as a civil servant enforcing the National Minimum Wage, one of Labour’s greatest successes. This involved visiting local employers and instructing them to boost workers’ pay when the wages were illegally low. I hope to use my expertise on low pay to boost the City Council’s campaigns to persuade employers to pay a real Living wage.
Social care is in crisis, caught between Tory cuts and the greed of private contractors for profit. This has a devastating effect on the service provided and the wages and conditions of people working in the sector, and jeopardises the delivery of the statutory national living wage. The crisis is especially acute for domiciliary care workers who frequently get less than National Minimum Wage because their employers do not pay for their travel between calls. In my job enforcing the National Minimum Wage I learned a lot about the social care sector, and I secured a lot of back pay for underpaid care workers. I enthusiastically support Labour’s policies for a public sector national care service modelled on the NHS.
I was Branch Secretary in Cambridge for PCS, the civil servants’ union. We fought against the cuts, privatisation and destruction of public services by Tory Governments. It is a disgrace that public sector workers are now so shockingly undervalued and underpaid. I was a national negotiator for colleagues working in National Minimum Wage enforcement, and I secured a doubling of the budget for this work from a Labour government. I want to see the councils in Cambridgeshire fostering good relationships with their employees through their trade unions.
I joined the Labour Party because I was appalled at the destruction wrought by the Thatcher Government’s public sector cuts and privatisation agenda. Cambridge is a surprisingly unequal city, and I fully support the anti-poverty strategies of our Labour City Council. I want to see a socialist society where poverty is eradicated, and we all have the right to first class education and health care, decent wages and pensions, and social care that provides dignity in our old age.