tuc news in brief...
BRING ‘COLLAPSING’ SERVICES IN HOUSE Dave Prentis, general secretary of public service union Unison, demanded that all privatised services be brought back in house. He said services that had been sold off were “collapsing”. He added: “Public funds are being siphoned off into the pockets of the powerful and dodgy world of offshore companies in the most outrageous way.”
WORKERS’ SUMMIT TO FIND COMMON CAUSE Delegates agreed to back a ‘new deal for workers’ summit in the first half of 2020 to improve pay and working conditions, and recruit non-unionised workers. Communication Workers’ Union general secretary Dave Ward said the aim would be to draw up a common bargaining agenda and root out insecure employment.
CHILDREN HARMED BY PROFITEERING Poverty and profiteering are damaging children’s life chances and the TUC called on a new government to introduce a comprehensive strategy to reduce child poverty. National Education Union president Amanda Martin said the abolition of Sure Start had left schools as the only frontline service for many families.
JOIN FORCES WITH GREEN NEW DEAL GMB leader Tim Roache called for an alliance between trade unions and supporters of the Green New Deal which sought to address climate change and economic inequality. These issues mattered “to every worker, to every home, to every classroom and community”, he said.
FACEBOOK CENSORS TUC DELEGATES The TUC expressed concern that Facebook censored content showing delegates supporting Kurdish opposition leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned in Turkey. Facebook said he was ‘dangerous’. The Kurdish Solidarity Campaign said it was ‘ridiculous’ that unions had been censored.
6 | theJournalist
Labour promises to give workers more power than ever before
THE NEXT Labour government will bring about the biggest extension of workers’ rights Britain has ever seen, party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the TUC’s annual conference in Brighton. He promised better wages,
greater security, and ‘more say’, with workers given a seat at the cabinet table by the establishment of a new ministry of employment rights. At the core of its work would be a plan to implement collective bargaining across the economy, sector by sector. Within 100 days of Labour
taking office, ministers would repeal the Conservatives’ Trade Union Act and extend workers’ legal rights. “There’s nothing scary about trade unions, however hard the billionaire- owned media tries to paint them as such,” he said. “They are the country’s
largest democratic organisations rooted in the
workplace. Why should democracy end when you walk into work? Why should the place where you spend most of your day sometimes feel like a dictatorship?” Labour would deliver a living
wage of at least £10 per hour for all workers from the age of 16, act on the gender pay gap, ensure equal rights for all workers from day one and end zero-hour contracts. Staff would have places on boards, giving them a 10 per cent stake in large companies.
A Labour government would
enforce new rights through a workers’ protection agency, which would have powers to enter workplaces and bring prosecutions. Corbyn was speaking after Boris Johnson prorogued parliament to “run away from scrutiny” over Brexit. He said no one should mistake the ‘parliamentary knockabout’ for ‘real politics’, which was about giving power to those “who don’t have a lot of money [or] friends in high places”.
TUC GENERAL secretary Frances O’Grady urged politicians to introduce a law banning discrimination against working- class people. In her keynote address to
congress, she said she was proud the movement had led the campaign to outlaw
discrimination against women, the disabled, black people, the old, the young and LGB workers. But she said there was more to
do. “It’s high time we outlawed discrimination against working- class people. Let’s change the law and stamp out class prejudice once and for all.”
Trade unions are the country’s largest democratic organisations rooted in the workplace. Why should democracy end when you walk into work?
Jeremy Corbyn Call for law to ban class prejudice
She said many working-class people felt ignored and shut out from opportunities. Success depended on what
your parents did, your accent and which school you went to, she said. The system was rigged and the vote for Brexit was a symptom of that.
‘Wreck-it Ralph’, not Churchill
IN HIS MAIN address to congress, Unite leader Len McCluskey derided Boris Johnson’s ambition to be seen by the nation as another Churchill. McCluskey said Johnson was more Wreck-It Ralph than Churchill. Borrowing one of Churchill’s famous wartime speeches, McCluskey said: “We
will fight you in our hospitals; we will fight you in our factories; we will fight you in our communities. Pick your beach, prime minister. We’ll never surrender. We are the workers of Britain and we’re coming for you.” McCluskey said it was no accident that workers’ share of GDP declined from
more than 64 per cent in 1975 to 51 per cent now. He said it was down to the refusal of the Tories to engage with trade unionists as industry partners.
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