Though the TUC has been reduced in the number of delegates attending, reduced in the number of days’ duration, with the lowest affiliation since the 1940s, and almost total unanimity over motions debated, at least several motions threw down the gauntlet. Despite Miliband lecturing the TUC on why there should be ever greater distance between the trade unions and the Labour Party (good!) and why striking to defend pensions is bad, the TUC passed the motion on Trade Union Freedom.
TUC London 2011: not just debating pensions.
“Congress believes that workers’ individual rights are best protected by a strong and free trade union movement….Congress reaffirms its commitment to the removal of anti-trade union laws.” The campaign to re-establish, enhance and grow workplace organisation is the challenge for all unions and workers. Workplace organisation is the key to solidarity and collective consciousness. Workplace organisation is the basis for collective bargaining on wages, skills, pensions, health and safety, equality, dignity. Workplace organisation delivers real justice. Scrapping the most draconian anti-worker legislation in Europe is the challenge nearly 200 years since the first Combination (anti-trade union) laws were enacted in Britain.
An emergency motion on Bombardier, bypassed by the government for the contract to make new Thameslink carriages, firmly declared “the principle of supporting British manufacturing and protection of jobs is the overriding issue”. And Congress unanimously passed a strong motion on the crucial but largely unreported “Mode 4” negotiations that the European Union is conducting with India, which will allow transnational companies to bring their own workforce temporarily into the EU, including Britain. Now the task is to translate those motions into action – starting with publicising them.
And the Professional Footballers’ Association struck a blow for the unity of Britain with its successful motion calling on the General Council to support the idea of a united GB team at the London Olympics. “In these days of political separation and movement towards the break up of the United Kingdom, football and the Olympics allow the people of Britain to focus on what unites us and serves as a reminder of the great achievements that have come about when we have pulled together in the national interest,” it said. ■