Trades Councils’ annual conference report 2009


Held at The Eastbourne Centre, which turned out to be a T&G hotel aka The Kremlin, unbeknown to most delegates, thanks to the TUC’s accommodation list.  About 60 delegates attended; down from 100 when I went 3 years ago. 134 registered trades union councils in England & Wales down from 142 last year but up on 5 years ago. Last year’s trades council directory is listed at along with TUCJCC minutes. A West Midlands motion was passed which called for this to be updated with information about conference immediately afterwards – nothing still yet! Trade Councils Development grants are available via the Midlands TUC annually for £300 for our work around vulnerable workers, anti-fascism, activity in the community & manufacturing. I raised the question of our TUC silver badge application (15 years service as a trades council officer) – we were not only ones waiting as Bath TUC applied 2 years ago (both were on the Trades council when I was a student there) – it was agreed at the March TUCJCC but no further response – I have made contact again with the TUC.
Report of 2008 conference motions – not a single comment or note of any action arising from any motion was made. When this was questioned we were told that copies of motions had been presented to the TUC General Council but nothing was done. We were told that all motions had to be in line with General Council policy and so were all noted. This immediately begged the question – what were we there for?A motion passed last year and ignored, could have been mistaken for an emergency motion for this year as it called for MP’s and MEP’s expenses to be tightened up especially in relation to housing claims. The distain that the General Council seems to have for the opinion of the trades council conference was shown to be detrimental to our movement and to the Labour government.  Had the TUC taken up this campaign a year ago, it would not have been left to the Daily Telegraph to destroy the Labour Party’s chances of future electoral victory.
It was noted that the case of Karen Reissman, sacked UNISON Mental Health branch secretary had been taken up by Salford TUC Unemployed Centre which had won her an improved offer to that UNISON had negotiated. She is now working back in the NHS.
The eve of conference anti-fascist rally had got local press coverage though delegates had not been informed in advance. Several of speakers were No2EU candidates and it rapidly turned into a debate on the Euro elections.  I spoke against the platform and urged a vote for a party that would beat the fascists and not for No2EU. The narrow fascist victory in the North West unfortunately subsequently proved the point I had been making.
Megan Dobney TUC Southern & Eastern Region opened the conference and confirmed in her address that they are the leading campaigning TUC Region.  SERTUC has produced its own anti-fascist material which is worth us looking at. 
Alan Ritchie UCATT Gen Sec addressed conference and announced a new campaign Safe as Houseshighlighting tenants’ lack of awareness of asbestos in social housing.
  1. There was argument over the Response to the Economic Crisis composite motion.  A West Midlands CATUC motion was included though a section on the nationalisation of the banks was removed else it would have been ruled out of order (apparently no longer General Council policy, despite being passed in 1931). The Coventry delegate argued for its inclusion (along with others) – however it was no longer Coventry’s motion so most of the arguments were invalid.  It illustrated the lack of influence of trades councils that come under county associations.  We cannot put motions or amendments directly so cannot propose or second motions. The timescales involved mean that a motion from a branch would need to be received by around the new year to get to national conference. Trades union councils such as Telford can submit directly.
  2. Support was won for the Peoples’ Charter (seeking one million signatures).There was criticism of the lack of inclusion of anti-TU Law work in the TUC Trades Union Councils Annual Programme of Work.
  3. I managed to speak in support of Bilston on the Royal Mail privatisation motion. I praised the CWU’s national demo in Bilston after it was criticised for not being in London.  Probably more members of the public noticed as Bilston come to a standstill than would have happened in London; front page Morning Star coverage too!
  4. A Bedfordshire motion was pertinent to the Rahimi family as it called on the Home Office to treat the PCS as the POA and set anti-racist/fascist selection criteria in place at Yarls Wood detention centre where they experienced former apartheid-era South African guards.  Bedford TUC was involved in local campaigning.
  5. An emergency composite calling for the reinstatement of Rob Williams, Linamar Convenor has already achieved success – he refused a payoff and an all-out strike threat won him his job back.
  6. Despite the TUCongress passing last September, the RMT’s motion to give this conference power to submit a motion to Congress; it seems that is all that will change. The policy must adhere to existing policy and the fraternal/sororal delegate (chosen by the TUCJCC upon receipt of nominations) still does not have speaking rights. So no one representing trades councils will be able to move the motion. The motion chosen (by secret ballot) was a National Strategy for the Defence of TUC Unemployed Centres.  It called upon the promotion of One Fund for All which still operates successfully in Merseyside, raising £100,000 annually where the majority of campaigning TUC Centres still exist.
  7. All motions were passed some amended but all were added nothing to the existing campaign guidelines laid down for our work in the TUC Programme of Work.
  8. Workshops:

 How to raise the profile of trades union councils:·      

  • Contact schools to offer TU speakers under the national curriculum.·       
  • Monitor local paper for disputes and then offer support.·     
  •  May Day events & Yellow Pages listings.·       
  • Contact Co-op Party for funds for events.
New Media·       
  • TUC training available for 2 minute YouTube productions and virals, promoting unions.  Cheap video cameras are available (£30 upwards). Some simple innovative videos using puppets to animate union issues were shown.·       
  • Facebook is US-owned and they have publishing rights to any pictures you upload.·       
  • TUC was asked to host sites for all local TUCs

by Nick Kelleher, Wolverhampton, Bilston & District TUC delegate to conference. 

Click HERE to see the conference report from the Coventry delegate, listed on the WM County association  of Trades Uniuon councils website

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply