Thursday, August 30, 2012

The much anticipated Chapter Eight

125 pages in to the General Council's report to next month's Trades Union Congress, the dedicated reader stumbles upon the gem of miscellany that is Chapter Eight, enigmatically entitled "Wales and the English Regions."

In fact this chapter attempts to provide a summary of the work of the Regional TUCs in England, the Wales TUC, Trades Councils and Unemployed Workers Centres (and the wonderfully named "Council of the Isles") but I suppose, as a chapter title, "Bits that don't fit elsewhere" failed to commend itself.

Instead of providing discrete reports of the work of each Regional TUC, the chapter starts with five thematic sections each of which includes some reference to activities in each Region. This doesn't work as a way of reporting on the activities of Regional TUC and failed to hold the attention of even this most dedicated reader of the General Council report.

Mind you, since the TUC fails to give London its own Region although London has more devolved powers than any English Region I guess I may not be well-disposed to Regional structures which seem irrelevant to real trade union work in the capital.

The Wales TUC get their own section, which seems more than appropriate since it reports on amendments to their Rules to reflect the increased powers of the devolved Welsh Government - who intend to use those powers to protect against the worst of the Coalitions attacks.

The section on Trades Councils also makes an interesting read for a UNISON activist, given the hostility expressed to Trades Councils more than once at recent UNISON Conferences. As a sort of local mini-TUC (but run by lay activists) Trades Councils have an enduring potential which we should not forget just because it is sometimes squandered.

Similarly, it is good to be reminded of the work of the 35 TUC Unemployed Workers Centres, whose workload is increasing as their funding is reducing - though now may be the time (in the light of UNITE's "community membership" drive in particular) to reconsider how our movement relates to unemployed workers - National Unemployed Workers Movement anyone?

And the "Council of the Isles"? Well, I'm not going to tell you. I don't want to disempower you further dear reader. You must google it for yourself and then decide whether it belonged in Chapter Eight or Chapter Five.

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