TUC CONGRESS THIS YEAR HAD SEVERAL DEBATES about the consequences of the EU referendum. There was a composite on the TUC’s role in Brexit which affirmed unions’ opposition to austerity, moved by Unite. Another highlighted the need to defend workers’ rights, moved by Unison. In several other debates delegates expressed concern about the rise in racism, hate crimes and other forms of prejudice in the aftermath of the referendum result.
Another focus of many motions and composites was the changing nature of workplaces in 2016, from the ‘fourth digital revolution’, the impact of automation, the gig economy and the effect of all of these on jobs and working practices. A composite on supporting a modern industrial policy from the GMB, Prospect and ASLEF stressed the importance of investment in order to encourage technological innovations and promote economic growth to avoid another recession. The CWU proposed a motion for a ‘New Deal for Workers’ which includes developing a common bargaining agenda for TUC affiliates and for the TUC to call a major national demonstration in 2017.
There were several emergency motions, including:
- solidarity with the junior doctors and expressing concern that attacks on anti-social hours payments would spread to other NHS workers
- against Theresa May’s reintroduction of grammar schools
- and, following the recently commissioned TUC report, a call for zero tolerance of sexual harassment.
There were other motions on the crisis in the Post Office, on blacklisting, and in defence of the steel industry. Other priorities for the Congress for the coming year were reaching out to young workers and developing digital campaigning and organising.
The fringe was lively this year and included a packed LRC meeting addressed by John McDonnell and a successful JC4PM event organised by PCS.