In our second interview with a UNISON member running for Parliament on June 8, we talked to Jayne Kirkham about the realities of life in Cornwall and what motivated her to stand to be an MP.
Stretching from north to south coast, Truro and Falmouth covers some of England’s most beautiful landscapes. Living standards are squeezed, though, with average wages almost ten percent lower than the GB average. Over one in five people work in care and health-related jobs, so the crisis in social care is an everyday reality for them and their families.
Standing for election on June 8 in Truro and Falmouth is UNISON member Jayne Kirkham. Jayne works as a teaching assistant and is steward at Falmouth school.
Before moving to Cornwall she worked as a solicitor for Thompsons and specialised in health and safety cases – including some on behalf of UNISON.
Why are you running for Parliament?
I am running for Parliament and for Labour because I worry that the country, and Cornwall, won’t stand another five years of the Tories.
What did you learn from being in UNISON?
I learned from UNISON that organising together is the best way to stand up for workers. I saw too how public services are being squeezed hard and that wages are dropping painfully in real terms.
What would you say to public service workers voting in this election?
Labour wants to change things for the better for you. Getting rid of the pay cap for NHS workers, a decent level of minimum wage, banning unwanted zero hours contracts, new rights for unions, protecting workers’ rights especially if and when we leave the EU, and building houses you can afford to live in.
What do you think the key public service issues are in your constituency?
Low pay and job insecurity are a real issue in Truro and Falmouth. Also, terms and conditions being eroded when workers are pushed into the private sector and the cap on public sector pay meaning that public sector workers are getting poorer in real terms. Affordable housing for key workers too. These are all things Labour plans to tackle when in government.
What issues do you particularly care about in politics / your constituency?
I care a great deal about secure jobs and low pay in Cornwall. Also about the NHS and the changes that are due to shut local hospitals. There’s also academisation and the drop in funding per pupil for our schools by 2020. I work in a good school, so I feel very strongly about cuts in school funding.