Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/547/6377

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 September 2008

Workers' anger surfaces at TUC

ON THE first day of the Trades Union Congress conference, the TUC leaders were extremely anxious to get controversial motions out of the way before Labour ministers arrived with the press. So two major issues were debated quite sharply, both in what was said from the rostrum and the reception on the conference floor.

Bill Mullins

The two debates were on public-sector pay and how to defeat the government's pay policies, and the anti-union laws and how they could be defeated. In the first debate, the right wing in Unison had been forced to come in behind the composite of resolutions from the civil service union PCS, the lecturers' union UCU and the teachers' union NUT.

That composite spelled out to some degree how public-sector united action could defeat the government's pay policy. It included the call by the PCS for united industrial action and for a national demo and day of action to back up that campaign.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) had put an amendment to the composite which inserted the word "strike" before "action". The amendment was supported, in speeches at least, by Unite, the biggest union in the TUC.

But lo and behold, when it came to the card vote, the amendment was lost by 2.9 million votes to 1.4 million. It was alleged that Unite - with over two million votes - had lost their voting paper!

In the afternoon, the conference heard speeches calling for general strike action to kick out the anti-union laws, something which hasn't been heard for years at the TUC conference.

Brian Caton, POA general secretary, moved that the TUC should organise a series of one-day general strikes until the anti-union laws are off the statute book.

Again, this debate showed the difference between those who are sincere in attempting to bring about the end of the anti-union laws and the cynicism of the TUC right wing.

The speakers from the left were completely sympathetic with the POA's position. After all, the POA had lost the right to strike under the Tories and despite promises, have not got the right to strike under Labour. The POA are extremely frustrated and feel it is a number one issue for them. Not having the right to strike had affected their ability to fight the pay freeze, although they did of course take unofficial action in August 2007.

This issue is crucial for the whole trade union movement. The anti-trade union laws are among the most repressive in the West, and mean that the trade unions are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs. Gordon Brown has made it clear that New Labour is completely wedded to these laws. It is only by mass struggle that they will be defeated. The debate between left trade unionists was on how such a mass struggle could be built.

Billy Hayes, of the Communication Workers Union, pointed out in a good speech that postal workers lost one million days in strike action last year, many of them unofficial. Postal workers are making it clear that if the POA goes on strike again, they will not cross their picket lines. But, as Billy pointed out, the present key issue for postal workers is pay and it would be difficult, if not absolutely ruled out, to deliver a one-day strike at this stage against the anti-union laws as a stand-alone issue.

John McInally, of the PCS, lambasted the TUC leadership in a powerful speech for doing nothing on the anti-union laws. He pointed out that PCS members have been on many strikes over the past few years over pay, jobs and privatisation, but a strike against the anti-union laws as a single issue, not linked to other questions, would be very difficult to deliver at this stage.

For the PCS, John said it was a question of tactics, and this has to be linked to a concrete issue such as pay, which the POA's resolution did not do. He called on the POA to withdraw their motion. In the eventual hand vote, only the POA and RMT were seen to vote for it. It was a lesson in tactics for all the left in the trade union movement.

For further news from TUC conference, see next week's issue.

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


In The Socialist 10 September 2008:

Housing Crisis: Brown has no answers


War and occupation

End the wars and occupations

USA: Defying police, students walk out against the Republican national convention


Socialist Party editorial

US mortgage bank nationalisation - sign of deepening crisis


Scotland

Scotland council tax to be scrapped

Scotland: Council pay battle at critical stage


Socialist Party workplace news

Workers' anger surfaces at TUC

London bus workers inspired by strike

Fighting for decent pensions

In brief


Socialism 2008

Come to Socialism 2008!


Socialist Party campaigns

May Day detainees fight for justice

No to post office closures

Boom to bust in Cardiff Bay

Fans pay for the success of the 'beautiful game'

Protest against harassment!


Socialist Students

Fighting start to freshers fairs

Young workers ripped off

Bangor University students union fees referendum


Environment and socialism

Can we have 'the right to travel' - without adding to climate change?


Socialist Party review

Richard Dawkins: The genius of Charles Darwin, (Channel 4)


International socialist news and analysis

Thailand in grip of political deadlock


 

Home   |   The Socialist 10 September 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

TUC:

triangleNSSN meeting brings together workers in struggle

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

POA:

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

triangleWorkplace news in brief

trianglePrison deaths scandal

Strike:

triangle110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907

triangleThe Socialist's 2017 quiz

triangleNewham anti-academies strikes

PCS:

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

John McInally:

triangleIncreased majority for Democracy Alliance

Brian Caton:

triangleTransgender woman locked up in male prison

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

14/12/17

Waltham Forest

Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

13/12/17

London

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

12/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

triangle6 Jan Socialist Party national women's meeting

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2