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RMT members lobby Downing Street last week demanding an end to Tube privatisation – the rail union TSSA call for all work to be taken back in-house
The TUC preliminary agenda covers the mounting concerns of workers over jobs, wages and conditions, public services and basic rights.

The agenda opens with a resolution calling on the TUC to ‘continue to campaign against the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers and to publicise examples of this as widely as possible’ from the Educational Institute of Scotland.

Construction union UCATT calls ‘on the General Council to mount an effective and vigorous campaign in support of extending the terms of reference for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to include the construction industry, that will:

‘i) protect vulnerable workers from exploitation and abuse;

‘ii) drive rogue labour providers out of business. . .’

In a motion on Agency workers Unite the union calls ‘on the General Council and unions to continue to mount a high profile campaign for UK legislation in this parliament to outlaw discrimination against agency workers in basic terms and conditions, from day one of employment.’

The Communication Workers’ Union calls for a campaign for agency workers to have the same rights as permanent staff.

Rail union RMT repeats calls for the repeal of all anti-union laws and urges ‘the General Council to organise a lobby of parliament in support of the Trade Union Rights and Freedoms Bill, tabled by John McDonnell MP.

‘The Bill is scheduled for its second reading on 19 October 2007 and Congress urges the government to allow sufficient parliamentary time for the Bill to be debated and voted upon.’

The NUM also urges support for McDonnell’s Bill.

UCATT calls for the TUC to press for a public inquiry into the jailing of the Shrewsbury building worker pickets.

The resolution states: ‘The inquiry should:

‘i) encompass all dates following and including 6 September 1972 up until the release of Dennis Warren and Eric Tomlinson;

‘ii) include an immediate Freedom of Information request for the release of all government and police papers relating to the “Shrewsbury” trials;

‘iii) examine any link between Central Government and the North Wales and West Mercia Police Divisions investigations;

‘iv) examine any link between UK building employers and the Conservative Government and specifically the Home Secretary Robert Carr; and

‘v) investigate the systematic intimidation and abuse suffered in prison by Eric Tomlinson and the late Dennis Warren.’

The GMB trade union has a motion on Remploy this ‘condemns the proposal to close 43 Remploy factory sites with the loss of 2,300 disabled jobs and up to 700 non-disabled jobs; supposedly aimed at getting more disabled people into open employment but actually planned since June 2005.’

The motion adds: ‘Congress will not be complicit in the privatisation of our public services and rejects the Remploy strategy as part of a wider campaign to privatise Jobcentre Plus. Remploy’s Interwork function should be returned to JobCentre Plus which has the expertise to do the job.

‘Congress calls on the Government to:

‘i) place a moratorium on factory closures;

‘ii) hold an independent enquiry into the Remploy Board’s stewardship and its strategy since June 2005;

‘iii) examine the methods used to persuade MPs and charities that factory closures are the only answer to the issue of disabled people’s employment; and

‘iv) use the EU Procurement Directive to encourage public bodies to place orders with Remploy to create a steady stream of work out of the billions paid annually for goods and services.

‘Congress further calls on affiliates to support the Remploy trade unions’ campaign to stop these factory closures and support their alternative business proposals which can substantially improve the company’s financial position without the need for factory closures or job losses.’

Motions on manufacturing from Unite and Community trade unions plead with the government to invest in and promote UK manufacturing.

A motion on the Railway Industry from rail union TSSA states: ‘Congress considers that privatisation in the transport industry continues to work against the public interest and again calls for a publicly owned and accountable railway industry that is electorally popular, economically justified and achievable at minimal cost by initially absorbing franchises as they expire.’

It adds: ‘The disadvantages of privatisation are not restricted to passenger operations. Congress considers the continuing debacle of maintenance undertaken by Metronet on the London Underground under the public-private partnership must be addressed urgently and calls for all the work to be taken back in-house as a priority.’

A Unite Housing motion calls ‘upon the General Council to campaign for:

i) government to enable local authorities to improve all existing council homes and estates;

‘ii) government to allow local authorities to start a new house building programme;

A UNISON motion also calls for the TUC to campaign for funding for repairs and to restore council house building.

UNISON’s motion on Public services states that ‘the Brown government must move on from the mistaken policies of marketisation, “efficiency savings” and crude targets that have led only to privatisation, cuts and the demoralisation of public service staff, and set a course based on high quality, accountable services through co-operation with users and staff.

‘Congress believes that only such a change will restore public confidence. We therefore note the review of the NHS and fully support the NHS Together national demonstration in defence of NHS values and principles.

‘We reject the transformation of local government in the recent Bill, from service provider to commissioner, believing it leads to fragmentation and marketisation.’

On Public sector pay, the civil servants’ union PCS ‘deplores the government’s 2 per cent pay limit on public sector pay increases and rejects the argument that it will help combat inflation.’

The motion adds: ‘Congress believes that the sector-wide pay freeze has created the conditions for another co-ordinated campaign including industrial action if necessary. We note that affiliates have been holding discussions on such a campaign since the Spring.

‘Congress calls on the General Council and Executive Committee to:

‘i) convene an immediate meeting of interested unions to discuss coordinated industrial action;

‘ii) give full support to any such action;

‘iii) develop local and regional campaigns of public sector unions; and

‘iv) step up campaigning for a fairer, more redistributive tax system.’

In a separate motion teachers union NUT ‘instructs the General Council to give full support to affiliated unions’ efforts to protect their members’ real and relative pay levels, to oppose the government’s two per cent pay target for public sector workers, and to co-ordinate a joint campaign of opposition at national and local levels to the government’s unfair public sector pay limit, including co-ordinated joint industrial action.’

The PCS motion titled ‘Civil service/NDPB dispute and welfare reform’ states: ‘Congress fully supports civil and public servants campaigning and taking industrial action against massive job cuts. Congress notes that the cuts are accompanied by increased use of consultants and contracting out as government departments struggle to deliver vital services.’

It adds: ‘Congress resolves to call on the General Council and Executive committee to:

‘i) mobilise full support for the civil service unions in their opposition to job cuts and privatisation and in seeking national pay bargaining rights;

‘ii) call a national demonstration in support of all public services and against further privatisations; and

‘iii) increase the public profile of its campaigning to defend the welfare state.’

The University and College Union motion ‘Privatisation in further and higher education’ states: ‘Congress notes that under the guise of ideas of “contestability”, linking skills provision to “employer-demand”, and “widening the provider base” in post-compulsory education, core education functions are being passed into the control of the private sector.

‘Congress further notes that these developments threaten to create a two-tier system in staff pay and terms and conditions; increase workloads; damage the quality of provision and the reputation of UK further and higher education; and increase financial instability across both sectors.’

The motion calls on the General Council to ‘lobby the government to extend the end of the two-tier workforce in local government to FHE, including all staff who currently work for private contractors’.

It also calls on it to ‘lobby for a moratorium on further initiatives to subject the education system to the short-term imperatives of “employer-demand”, contestability, private control and public-private partnerships until the impact of such initiatives both in the UK and abroad are fully evaluated.’

In the section on ‘global solidarity’ teachers union NASUWT opposes child labour.

Its motion states: ‘Congress deplores the fact that there are increasing numbers of children in the UK who are forced to work as a result of poverty and deprivation.’

It calls for ‘effective legislative measures to combat harmful child labour’.

The GMB and RMT have motions opposing the planned EU ‘Reform Treaty’ and call on Brown to honour the Labour Party manifesto pledge of a referendum.

International issues of vital importance to the working class – the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, a trade union boycott of Israel and taking action against new wars on Iran and Syria are notable for their absence from the TUC agenda, a shameful position that must be rectifed with some emergency resolutions

As well, with a couple of exceptions, all the motions limit themselves to appealing to the Brown government.

This is an abdication of leadership at a time when workers and youth are daily coming into conflict with Brown and the employers, and are calling for united action to defend their jobs, livelihoods and the welfare state.


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