Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/779/17394

From The Socialist newspaper, 11 September 2013

TUC congress dominated by questions of joint action and links to Labour Party

Neil Cafferky
Janice Godrich, President of PCS, speaking at the NSSN lobby of the TUC congress 2013, called Miliband to account, photo by Paul Mattsson

Janice Godrich, President of PCS, speaking at the NSSN lobby of the TUC congress 2013, called Miliband to account, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

"Your policies seem contradictory and they're confusing people. Can we get a clear answer: are you for or against austerity?" This question put by PCS president Janice Godrich to Labour leader Ed Miliband garnered the biggest applause at the TUC congress so far.

Increasing the confusion, Miliband replied that he was opposed to the coalition's austerity programme but confirmed that Labour would stick to Tory spending limits in order to appear "credible".

The congress has been dominated by two questions - one is coordinated action in the autumn and two is the question of the trade unions' relationship to the Labour Party in the light of events in Falkirk.

The congress began with the NSSN lobby which attracted hundreds of trade union reps from around the country to push the idea of general strike action.

This was reflected in the halls of the congress in the debate around motion 54, put by the transport union RMT, on fighting austerity. This included the idea of coordinated action.

Bob Crow, RMT, speaking at the NSSN lobby of the TUC congress 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson

Bob Crow, RMT, speaking at the NSSN lobby of the TUC congress 2013, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In a rousing speech, RMT general secretary Bob Crow made the case for a general strike as a part of this strategy, asking: "if the FBU are out, if the NUT are out and if the PCS are out, then why can't we all be out?"

In the debate, the division between left and right was clearly seen. Mary Bousted from the teaching union ATL, for example, called the idea of a general strike 'daft'.

She said: "There's more chance of the Con-Dems changing their austerity policies than there is of the TUC organising general strike action."

Janice Godrich rejected this by saying that general strike action was not daft or deluded but determined.

PCS vice-president John McInally said that there should be no place in the trade union movement for that kind of cynicism.

In his contribution supporting a motion by Unison general secretary David Prentis on anti-austerity campaigning, John raised the need for a coordinated pay claim across the public sector, backed up by coordinated strike action if necessary.

PCS delegate Lee Vernon, in the discussion on organising young workers, received big applause when he said that when unions organise and fight they are more attractive to young members and that the trade unions should work closely with organisations like Youth Fight for Jobs to improve the lives of young workers.

In his speech Ed Miliband made passing reference to the dispute with Unite around the events in Falkirk. But it was those events that dominated discussions on the sidelines of the conference.

The job of one of the suspended Labour Party members, Stevie Deans, is under threat. There has been discussion about possible strike action in defence of his job at the Grangemouth oil refinery.

The Socialist Party leaflet on the trade unions and the Labour Party has had a fantastic reception with many delegates agreeing with our position.

It appears from the fringe meetings that Unite's position is hardening against Miliband's attacks on collectivism.

In one fringe meeting, Jennie Formby, Unite's national political officer, said that collectivism is "non-negotiable".

The Socialist Party leaflet made clear that if Miliband's proposals do go through unions should: "break the link with New Labour and form a new worker-based party which would reflect union policies and keep the collective strength of workers' organisations."


Action needed now

I attended the National Shop Stewards Network lobby of the TUC conference in Bournemouth. I was determined to make the TUC listen, inspired by activists and general secretaries alike who heeded the call for a general strike, delighted to hear the motion was carried by conference later that afternoon and angered that of the four unions to oppose, my union Usdaw was one of them.

Usdaw general secretary John Hannett said the motion gave the media and government a stick to beat us with and that a general strike would be illegal.

Well, the government and their cronies in the media are beating us with a stick and it's certainly hurting! If previous working class fighters had considered legality, we wouldn't have trade unions at all.

If over six million people in Britain took strike action, joined by students, the unemployed and others then the government would have a very hard time declaring it illegal and doing something about it.

If John Hannett spent some time working on a checkout or distribution centre like his members he would know the hardships they face, their willingness to struggle and the need for a mass fightback.

An Usdaw shop steward

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 11 September 2013:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Let's organise an autumn of action against austerity

NSSN rally calls for mass action to stop the cuts

Disaffiliate from pro-capitalist Labour

Teaching unions prepare for campaign of autumn strikes

TUC congress dominated by questions of joint action and links to Labour Party

Save our NHS!

The government's Alice in Wongaland recovery

Zero faith in Labour on zero-hours

Their homes ... & Ours


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Bolton victory shows we can beat the bedroom tax

Large counter-demo against racist EDL

Merseyside People's Assembly - A lost opportunity


Socialist Students

Reinvigorate the student movement: Protest, occupy, strike for our education


International socialist news and analysis

Chile 1973: The other '9/11'

Obama's drums of war fail to win support for Syria strike


Socialist Party workplace news

Housing workers strike again

Yorkshire Ambulance: The battle against union derecognition

POA members hold meeting outside HMP Leeds

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reviews

Art review: The vanity of small differences

TV review: Failed by the privatising NHS

Book review: Capital - in Manga!


 

Home   |   The Socialist 11 September 2013   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

TUC:

triangleUnion independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network TUC rally

triangleLow Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!

triangleDefend the right to strike

triangleCorbyn promises 'power in the hands of workers' - how can Labour do it?

Labour Party:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

trianglePreparing for the post-Corbyn era

triangleLabour Party and trans rights

triangleUnite union nominates Long-Bailey and Burgon

Labour:

triangleNewham campaign set up against council cuts and tax hikes

triangleCoventry socialist candidate wins votes against austerity

triangleStop gentrification of Lea Bridge

Strike:

triangleBexley binworkers' strike wins sick pay from day one

trianglePostal workers deliver massive strike vote

Unions:

triangleThe self-employed need 100% of their income, and now!

General strike:

triangleIndia: Bloody pogrom fuelled by Modi's sectarianism

Union:

triangleSouthampton: University workers win full pay for casual staff

Austerity:

triangleCoronavirus and domestic violence: a double threat to women's lives

PCS:

triangleWorkers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Unite:

triangleDetermined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days

RMT:

triangleTransport union RMT demands action for coronavirus tube safety

Janice Godrich:

trianglePCS Left Unity assistant general secretary election rerun

Ed Miliband:

triangleFight for a socialist Brexit

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

25/3/20

Coronavirus

We need tests for all now! Nationalise production and research

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus plunges capitalism into global turmoil

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus crisis: Tests, full pay and funding - for all now

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Union independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

25/3/20

Coronavirus

State intervention shows what is possible

25/3/20

Care workers

Social care: "Not good enough by miles"

25/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus news in brief

25/3/20

Domestic violence

Coronavirus and domestic violence: a double threat to women's lives

23/3/20

Coronavirus

Too little too late

19/3/20

Coronavirus

The new crisis and its consequences

19/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus and school closures: what needs to be done now

18/3/20

Coronavirus

Councils must break austerity rules

18/3/20

Coronavirus

Under the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief

18/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

18/3/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999