The leader of the TUC has accused the Conservatives of delivering a “broken” economic model during their time in office, rewarding wealth not work.
General secretary Paul Nowak called for an end to the “grotesque inequality” of the Tory era, which he said has been a “disaster” for working people.
In an interview with the PA news agency, he said workers have witnessed an “unprecedented” squeeze on their wages, in stark contrast to the highest paid in society.
“We need to have political change in Westminster, and a national conversation about taxing wealth and windfalls to fix broken Britain,” he said.
Ahead of the annual TUC Congress, which opens in Liverpool this weekend, Mr Nowak said living standards have plummeted and public services are “on their knees”, which has led to an unprecedented year of strikes across the country by hundreds of thousands of workers,
He said unions have won important deals in the private sector, and forced the Government to change its position on pay for public sector workers including teachers and civil servants.
“We have demonstrated the difference unions can make, and our focus now is to continue to grow the union movement because we have a positive message to tell,” he said.
Mr Nowak said the main cause of the strikes is a Government with no plan for boosting wages or building public services.
“It is a Government without a message of hope.”
Mr Nowak said unions know life would not be “perfect” under a Labour government, but the party is promising a new deal for workers, as well as repealing the legislation on minimum levels of service during strikes.
He confirmed the TUC is exploring a legal challenge to the new law and warned of a “whole-movement response” if and when the first worker is sacked as a result of the legislation.
The TUC has published a survey of more than 2,000 adults which showed “significant cross-party support” for increasing taxes on wealth and excess profits.
Three-quarters of respondents supported a windfall tax on banks’ excess profits – including 76% of Conservative 2019 voters, said the TUC.
Mr Nowak said huge inequality has become the “norm” in Britain, with official figures showing that the richest 1% of households each have wealth of more than £3.6 million, and the least wealthy 10% have £15,400 or less.
Chief executives’ pay is booming, City bonuses have been at a record level for the past two years, and banks and energy giants have been registering record profits, while workers are suffering the worst pay crisis in 200 years, said the TUC.
Mr Nowak added: “It’s time to end the grotesque inequality of the Tory era.
“As households across the country have struggled to put food on the table, energy companies and banks have registered eyewatering profits, and chief executive pay has skyrocketed.
“The wealthiest have feathered their nests while working people have suffered the worst pay crisis in two centuries.
“Rampant inequalities are the direct result of a broken Tory economic model that rewards wealth not work.
“We need a reset, and an economy that delivers better living standards for all, not just those at the top.
“Our current tax system isn’t fit for purpose. A nurse will pay a bigger share of their income in tax than a City trader does on profits from their investment portfolio.
“That’s not only absurd and unfair – it’s bad for our economy and our public services too.
“The public overwhelmingly back increased taxes on the wealthiest and companies that have made massive profits.
“It’s only right that the wealthiest pay their fair share.”