The 2011 conference of trades union councils opened in Peterbough (May 14/15th) in buoyant mood following an anti-cuts pre-conference rally of over 200. Peterborough TUC President Ron Greaves, described their campaigns as "being led by youth and the most scary militant pensioners I've ever met".
Several motions were passed against privatisation. Parallels were drawn between different campaigns by Anita Wright, Lambeth TUC "changes to the education system have been sold as choice, now they are repeating those lies on the NHS."
A key motion on the ConDem's creeping privatisation of the health service called on the "nationalisation of the pharmaceutical companies", recognising that they are holding us to ransom. Conference is able to send a single motion to this year's TUCongress, delegates voted for this motion Save the NHS.
Kevin Doherty from Belfast TUC and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, explained to delegates how "NHS privatisation is not just an English issue. If it were to continue, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could follow. We should stimulate debate about what sort of society we want our children to live in."
He praised the Morning Star as the exception in a media failing to put across the truth of what damage is being done to society.
Motions went further than simply opposing cuts, by putting forward viable alternatives for the labour movement to take up. Clara Paillard, Merseyside TUC moved the motion calling for climate jobs to be "central to existing campaigns". Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP argued that "energy efficient new build social housing would generate 80,000 jobs in addition to 100,000 that could be created by producing wind power technology here, rather than importing it."
It was clear that many trades union councils have been far more effective than us in mobilising public support for local anti-cuts campaigning.
• They have numbers of delegates taking on key roles.
• Many are using the TUC backed Peoples Charter to promote the alternative to cuts.
• TUC and LP not offering an alternative, just the same attacks on our class but slower.
• Local leaflets could use quotes from local people, examples of local cuts and offer alternatives of effective and progressive taxation, cut Trident, invest in the green economy etc.
• Pressurise Coalition MPs & councillors locally to divide coalition – Paul Uppal in SW and Lib Dem councillors in SpringVale?
• Demo at Lib Dem conference Sun 18 September
• Attack government on all fronts NHS, Public transport and reality of cuts on council services on people.
• Create photo-opportunities
• 30th June UCU, PCS, NUT, ATL strikes – next key activity
• Incomes of super-rich have continued to increase dramatically in last year.
73 delegates from 170 TUCs; the highest number of registered trades union councils for a decade generated many first time delegates, such as Gawain Little. He co-ordinates activity through a united anti-cuts alliance initiated by Oxford TUC.
He successfully moved the Anti-Cuts Campaigning motion, which called on "the Trades Union Congress to take responsibility for ensuring that the trade union movement, nationally and locally, plays the central role in organising an alliance to demand alternative policies and resist the cuts using all necessary means, including through co-ordinated industrial action across public services and, where appropriate, the private sector."
Merseyside's emergency motion on Employment Law called on joint work with the Campaign to Repeal Anti-Trade Union Laws to fight ConDem proposals to cut discrimination awards, end redundancy consultation and abolish TUPE.
May Day – emergency motion passed, to campaign for retention of May Day bank holiday.
Blackpool 28 May – The English Defence League is trying to whip up race hatred in Blackpool by exploiting the tragic cases of Charlene Downes and Paige Chivers, both of whom are missing and thought to have been murdered. Blackpool & Fleetwood UAF has called a vigil in response, but no confrontation. Stoke delegate raised links between EDL and England First Party (formally White Nationalist Party) which has began standing in elections.
Dorothy Heath (Walsall) was unopposed as West Midlands TUCJCC representative. Jason Hill (N.Staffs) who was last year’s rep told me he has not re-stood as he didn’t think he’d done role well enough. One of the other TUCJCC reps described the role of the TUC Joint Consultative Committee reps as “glorified annual conference organisers”.
I had a 400-word report of the conference printed in the Morning Star.
Delegates left stimulated from the exchange of ideas, going back to help lead local campaigns to defend the gains of our class and offer an alternative to the ideological attack being waged against us.
Nick Kelleher, Secretary, Wolverhampton, Bilston & District Trades Union Council