Sunday, September 10, 2017
Welcoming TUC delegates to Brighton - what about the workers?
Brighton is welcoming delegates to the annual Trades Union Congress, which convenes here this afternoon (read more here).
I hope that friends and comrades in the UNISON delegation (and other delegations) will take the opportunity to network between activists in different trade unions – because (from years of experience attending this particular event I can say) that is just about the only justification for the event.
Official policymaking between the official structures of our trade union movement has no relevance to everyday life in the workplace – the Congress which will meet at the Brighton Centre for the next few days is essentially the same body that voted to consider the practicalities of organising a General Strike against austerity.
Remember what became of that?
If you look at the official statistics for strike action you see clearly that this century has seen a few peaks of action, each of which was associated with national strike action in the public sector (and generally local government).
These were our opportunities to mobilise trade union members in opposition to austerity. Each one of them was squandered. The leadership who squandered each of those opportunities is generally still in place. They were always weak.
Trade union membership and density are falling – and our movement was unable to prevent legislation which has made lawful large scale national strike action a virtual impossibility. Strike action remains at a historically low level.
The leadership of the trade unions will celebrate the outcome of this year’s General Election – although they contributed precious little to that outcome – because they want delegates from across our movement to whistle to keep their spirits up (rather than think about the crisis of our trade unions).
Any serious trade unionists who have managed to find their way into the sea of complacency and careerism that is the annual TUC beano should be sure to use these few days by the seaside to make links with other good activists across the movement. There is no other justification for the time off work.
Oh – and don’t miss the Labour Representation Committee fringe meeting!
Apart from that, we do have the best pubs in the country in Brighton…