Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/483/2317
Young trade unionists reject New Labour
THE TUC Youth Conference took place from 13-15 April, attended by around 50 young trade union activists.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber opened the conference by saying: "This conference is a perfect opportunity to draw together young people around their experiences and concerns in order to take our values forward." Unfortunately, it was a wasted opportunity.
Jacqui Berry, Community and Youth Workers' Union
Barber seemed to believe that the problems in the public sector stem from lack of staff morale. Perhaps if public-sector workers just cheered up then we might receive a higher quality public service!
Gemma Tumelty, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) outlined the "historic" protocol agreement between the TUC and NUS. She described it as "A long-term structured plan to organise student workers".
However, she freely admitted that this agreement would "open up employment opportunities within the TUC for members of the NUS".
Gemma also put all her hopes in the Labour Party by saying: "The only party capable of delivering for its members is the Labour Party, therefore, we should all vote, join and participate in Labour".
But Labour are incapable of delivering for working-class people and what's needed is a new workers' party.
Despite the PCS union having a very successful youth organisation, they were not formally invited to share their highly relevant experience in organising young agency workers.
The rest of the weekend consisted of workshops discussing the key statements that would be voted on later. The statement on public services produced much of the debate.
UNISON proposed an amendment that said: "Conference believes that we must celebrate improvements to public services seen since New Labour got elected in 1997.
"Improvements in quality of service and conditions for workers in public services have been vital after 18 years of Tory mis-rule"
PCS, Community, GMB, RMT and NAPO spoke against this ridiculous amendment. In reply, a UNISON member, James Anthony, passionately declared: "People are alive today because of New Labour".
But what about those who have died in Iraq, from MRSA and the rocketing rates of assaults on public-sector workers and deaths at work?
What about the inner-city areas with no investment into youth facilities and the number of young people killed by the rise in gun crime?
Lives saved my arse! The statement was voted down in flames.
The PCS amendment led to an interesting debate and was triggered off by Sarah Hills, from the PCS young members' network.
The amendment calls on the TUC general council to defend public services by uniting all unions to support public-sector workers through organising a national demonstration by the end of the year.
At the public services workshop, we asked why the TUC aren't supporting a call to unite trade unions for a national demonstration on the NHS.
A TUC policy adviser told us that the TUC are preparing to call a national NHS demonstration on 27 October. If this is the case, all rank and file trade union activists need to hold them to this promise.
In The Socialist 19 April 2007:
Socialist Party election campaign
Socialist Party editorial
Campaign for a New Workers Party
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis