President's Report 2018, AGM
The Secretary will provide an overview of the activity and work programme of the trades Council for 2017, whilst as the Presidents I am asked to provide a political analysis of the year.
I find it necessary to begin with the most recent incident occurring just this week. “ The collapse of Carillion is a Watershed moment. It is time to put an end to the rip off Privatisation policies that have done serious damage to our public services and fleeced tax payers of Billions of pounds”. Those of you on Facebook will know these are not my words but those of Jeremy Corbyn but they are so succinct I felt it necessary to quote him tonight.
The National impact is still unravelling. The Government has held Cobra meetings over the weekend and early this week to try to deal with the crisis. The impact on Public service contracts needed to be managed and as I understand it Direct Services are being delivered though there is not absolute clarity about who will be paying Staff wages. Where there are construction contracts for example hospitals being built there has been a ‘temporary halt’ till alternative arrangements can be made. The knock on affect on sub contractors, often smaller more local business means they could well face their demise also. Some of These companies have already been making redundancies to try to stem the haemorrhaging of money going out but expected payments now not going to be paid soon enough if at all. The estimates of these numbers are huge and frightening.
Locally, just behind us, is a main Carillion Office. Previously the offices of Tarmac. Before the mergers with some famous names such as McAlpine and others to form Carillion. The Trade Union movement have been particularly distrustful of these companies with the immoral practices in the construction industry and the blacklisting that went on. Some of us were astounded that they were awarded public contracts and public money. Clear on Facebook but less so in TV and Radio reports, that Phillip Green CEO of Carillion was a Government advisor and donator to the Tory party. Serious concerns have been raised about the awarding of contracts despite profit warnings indicating the company was in difficulty. It has become apparent that prior to the final liquidation of the company, sizable bonuses and payments of those at the top were approved and secured. Though it is reported these will not now be paid.
However, There has been a long history of this company and its predecessors in Wolverhampton and I have seen estimates of at least another 600 jobs to be lost in City. We cannot underestimate the impact this will have. 600 families whose livelihood will be lost. Who will now struggle to pay their council tax, not have money to spend in the local Take away, local Cinema and City Centre. 600 more families forced through no fault of their own, into poverty in the city.
This following the final Closure of Goodyears last year with the last few jobs either deleted or moved elsewhere.
Meanwhile the Tory Government rushes around trying to look like it is doing something. They have resisted the urge to Privatise the profits but Nationalise the debts by keeping the company going on the basis that it is too big to fail but it is the Tax payer that will have to pick up the costs of continuing to provide services and will have extra expense of rescuing construction projects. I was sickened to see on the news yesterday that still in Parliament they cling to the dogma of private good, public bad. Even though this flagship of their philosophy has failed and so catastrophically.
The General Election that Theresa May insisted she would not call then called in haste and held on 8th June 2017 because she was certain Jeremy Corbyn would loose saw her, rather than increase her majority, end up with no overall control and force her to form a Government reliant upon the DUP. Suddenly in Times of Austerity with no money in the kitty she has thrown Billions into securing the votes of ten MP’s from the DUP.
Some in the Labour Party also wanted to believe that Corbyn could not win and consequently are kicking themselves now for getting the election tactics so wrong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and so much more might have been possible when you analyse the results and the campaign that was run with effort being put into securing safe seats rather than working more marginal seats. A significant statement only if we learn from this situation and don’t repeat the mistakes.
The Conservative Government and Theresa May have demonstrated that far from being strong and stable they are weak and wobbly. May is hanging on in there but only just and lurches from one wobble to the next. She wobbled and coughed through her conference address visibly terrified. Too terrified to realise the impact of the P45 handed to her at the rostrum, and even the sign behind her wobbled and undermined her.
She went into battle as the media described it, to negotiate Brexit. She announced a breakthrough on border controls and the DUP pantomime said ‘oh no you wont’ so she didn’t and European leaders made the most of it. What ever your views on the EU, and most Unions and the country are pretty much split on this issue it seems to me. It is clear that the conservatives have no strategy or skill for these negotiations. What a mess they are making.
She came back after Christmas strong again promising a reshuffle to make good. She was going to deal with these white pale and male ‘has been’s’ and make space for the next generation of conservative leaders. What was the outcome? Her Cabinet members refused to shuffle and May didn’t have the numbers to pull it off. She wobbled again. The Tory’s are fighting like rats in a sack and the reality is little legislation is being put through Parliament. They Cant hold on for too much longer surely.
We have discussed at our meetings the impact of government policies for working people. The Austerity Dogma obscuring the reality of
People working but earning too little to feed their family and having to rely on charitable food banks.
People so insecure in work they are bullied and harassed and there has been frightening exposes by the trade union movement of unethical employment practises such at Sports Direct where a women gave birth in a toilet because she was so scared of missing her shift and loosing her income.
Zero hours contracts passed off as low unemployment.
Grenfell saw people burnt to death in their homes for the want of safe cladding on the building that cost slightly more money than the flammable cladding used.
Homeless people dying on our streets and
Real crisis in our NHS with people stacked on trolleys awaiting treatment and scheduled operations having to be delayed for a couple of months because of emergency cases coming in.
Meanwhile Corbyn is on election footing. His name is being chanted in the streets. The party political broadcast yesterday was powerful. Whilst it is important to campaign for the NHS as strongly as we can, I believe it is as important to speak up for all public services. To campaign unequivocally for publically owned and publically run services such as local government, MOD, Prison Services, Railways and postal services and Education. We need a strong public infrastructure for manufacturing to rebuild on a firm footing. John McDonald was straight about it he said ‘Take them back”. It can’t happen to soon.
We need a strong Trade Union movement with increased member participation and strong trade union branches. We have talked about it in the movement for long enough. We need to change. We need to modernise to be effective in a workforce where workers are disparate and isolated. It is a challenge and we need to recruit the next generation into the movement. We need to be ready to face the challenges of Labour Government when it comes.
My own branch has struggled with the deletion of Youth Services in the Midlands. I have been unable to get an affiliation to Trades council completed and so I will be standing down as President and not seeking re-election. It has been an honour to serve as president and play an active role in trades council for some years now and I thank every one of you for your solidarity. I will of course remain active in the trade union movement and in my own union though it never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is to be an activist when we are fighting so many battles in the current climate.
I have to pay tribute to Nick who is with out doubt the best secretary in the movement and his dedication means we have been able to work together as Trade unionists in our community to make a real difference with many events and activities that he will report on shortly.
Finally I started with Corbyn and ill end with Corbyn we need to go forward together to secure an end to the economics for the few, not the many.
Marie Taylor President WB&DTUC