Wednesday, August 23, 2006

TUC Congress agenda published

The final agenda for this year’s TUC Congress has been published and is available to download at the TUC website. The process of “grouping” or compositing motions will mean that there will be considerable further change before Congress opens in three weeks time. The main media interest in Congress has been about the likely reception for Tony Blair. Certainly the motions put down by UNISON for this year’s Congress are rightly and sharply critical of Government policy.

As avid readers of this blog (all three of you ;) ) will know, I was keen to see the sensible proposal for an “amnesty” for so-called “illegal” migrants get discussed, but was knocked back at the UNISON delegation meeting on the grounds (essentially) that there was not yet a sufficient consensus for this demand (although it is supported by both UNISON and the TGWU) and that as TUC policy was “inching forward” in our direction it was better not to push the issue at this year’s Congress.

Whilst it is pleasing to see that the level of union interest in organising migrant workers is such that the worthy motion from the Educational Institute of Scotland has drawn helpful and supportive amendments from USDAW, UCATT, UCU and the Bakers’ Union, I think it is a shame the union movement is moving so slowly towards support for sustainable regularisation of the position of undocumented workers. Without this, attempts to organise migrant workers whose legal position is insecure can easily be undermined by the unscrupulous employers who are exploiting migrant workers.

Thanks to the Government’s underestimate of inward migration from Eastern Europe, the debate about migration is being run from the political right at the moment (as I suppose it almost always is) – and the chances of shifting this New Labour shower in the sensible direction of an amnesty is slim enough between now and the next General Election.

I hope that the TUC doesn't "inch" towards our position so slowly that we lose the opportunity to free thousands of migrant workers from the fear of deportation.

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