General Secretary

October 2010 | 30.09.2009

Can we make the Trade Union Movement work together?

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We have entered the Conference season with the TUC Congress at Liverpool concluding and the Political Party Conferences about to begin in October. The question that remains at "the forefront" of my mind is how we work towards a more joined up Trade Union movement, having listened to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the TUC and leaders of many unions expressing their concerns in respect of their union member’s terms and conditions.

The current level of unemployment is 2.47 million a new high and union leaders warning of worse to come, if the planned Government cuts are imposed in 2010 and beyond.

These cuts are not necessary and leader after leader of Trade Unions were clear that there was another alternative. It is about time, that Government brings to account those who earn "mega money" and avoid paying the taxes which are due and do this by using financial experts in the banking industry an industry that was largely nationalised as a result of the inept and greedy management.

What is truly remarkable is that the main stream press are now blaming public sector workers, their pay, conditions and pensions, for the current economic position. The Governments spin machine now blames ordinary hard working people throughout the country for the current financial crisis. We know the blame truly lies at the doors of fat cat bankers.

We need to make the current Government and every other Political Party listen and understand that they will "reap what they sow" and take the country back towards a recession and not forward out of the recession, created by the greedy fat cat privateers. 

The plans for cuts in public services are not unique to any Political Party and therefore, the union movement must stand side by side to defend the terms and conditions of workers. Whilst the POA and the union’s campaign Prisons are not for Profit were well supported by the Trade Union movement the motion calling for a general strike was defeated.

This was disappointing; and I have to say raises the question can we make the Trade Union movement work together? 

It was clear to the POA delegation that too many unions are fighting cuts on there own and we believe that they will be picked off one by one, just like we were in 1993.

Will this Government introduce legislation to neuter other trade unions as they did to the POA in 1994? I believe they would if they were in power long enough, but I strongly believe that a Tory Government will if the unions oppose there plans for change.

As a result of the rejection of motion 84 which called for a Conference to debate a future political strategy the trade union movement, may well be in a vacuum throughout the political election campaigns of 2010 and potential change of government.

The unions must look forward, ensuring they protect each other and I only hope that we do not look back in history and regret the decisions made at this the 141st TUC Congress.

BRIAN CATON
GENERAL SECRETARY