report of 28/7/20 national Trades Union Councils meeting
Held on Zoom, there was a peak of 81 attendees; Nick Kelleher attended for Wolverhampton TUC.
This was held as a partial substitute for the cancelled TUCJCC (Trades Union Councils’ Joint Consultative Committee) conference planned for 13 June in Leicester.
Steve Gillan POA Gen Sec and TUCJCC Chair, opened the meeting.
Steve Turner Unite AGS and Dave Ward CWU GS gave excellent and inspiring speeches on the work done by trade unions during the crisis and the need to unite for the struggle ahead. Key points were:
ST – We had victories such as the job retention scheme but job losses are likely to be like the 1930s, maybe 4m by Xmas. The far right are lurking to make the most of the tensions. We must keep people in work and the Government give sectoral support to retain skills and jobs. But to make this happen we need to be active. TUC proposed 50%work, 50% govt, funded training to up-skill workforce. The crisis has exposed the complete failures of the market, e.g. NHS procurement going to Unipark with its ‘just in time’ failed policy, when a level of stockpiling was needed. Free market will not give the Green New Deal. Need UK manufacturing of wind turbines, battery banks, heat exchangers etc. We must not repeat the devastation of working class communities like after the 84/5 miners’ strike.
DW – The trade union movement can’t wait for 4 years like Labour might, we need to mobilise workers and trades councils have a key role here. The rail unions have done a great job during the crisis but Johnson is likely to make strike action illegal for them and other key workers. The trade unions have developed an Organising Pledge for collectivism and to stop wasteful competition for members and this should be developed. By the end of 2020 trade unions should agree on a national mobilisation with shared industrial and political demands. Trade union bureaucratic structures are not as accessible as they should be and CWU is getting out to members with, for example, Facebook meetings to take the workers with them. There has been institutional discrimination against BAME workers who have had higher exposure to Covid.
Questions and answers from ST and DW followed then reports on trades council activities during the Covid crisis activities merged with discussion on campaigning to build the trades council movement. Around a dozen contributions were made from trades councils Call for the trade unions to lead in the huge struggle ahead where Unemployed Workers Centres will be needed and a Peoples March should be planned in the spring to unite people involved in the many trade union disputes and community campaigns that are sure to happen.
Martin Mayer then gave a report on the great work being done by Sheffield needs a Pay Rise, the Trades Council and BFAWU in organising among low paid workers and winning some important victories.