Co-ordinated strike action – unanimous vote at the TUC Congress

Young Socialists lobbying the TUC on Sunday demanding jobs for youth with trade union rates of pay
Young Socialists lobbying the TUC on Sunday demanding jobs for youth with trade union rates of pay

DELEGATES at the TUC Congress 2012 in Brighton yesterday voted unanimously for composite Motion 1, which calls on the TUC to give its full support to workers taking strike action against cuts and coordinating unions to take strike action.

This came after TUC President Paul Kenny announced that Motion 5 from the POA would be taken on Tuesday afternoon ‘when business allows’.

This Motion calls on the TUC to consider the practicalities of a General Strike.

Moving Composite Motion 1, Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said the austerity measures are hurting workers and their families.

He said: ‘650,000 public service jobs are going everyday of this coalition’ . . . the UK ‘has the worst poverty record.

‘Working families are struggling with soaring prices.

‘Inequality in Britain now is getting worse than in Victorian times.

‘There are loan sharks on high streets, and gas and electricity prices are going up.’

He added: ‘Bankers without conscience are speculating on food prices while others face starvation’.

Prentis called on delegates to make 20th October the ‘biggest anti-cuts demonstration this country has seen.’

He concluded: ‘We will negotiate, but if we can’t get agreement we will move to coordinated action which is called for. Now is the time for action.’

Seconding, Len McCluskey Unite General Secretary, said: ‘This is our answer to a government programme which is leading our country on a path of poverty.

‘Save the Children has launched an appeal in the UK for the first time. Tory austerity has failed. We have been exposing the government’s deficiencies for the past two years.

‘Now I’m calling for £1 an hour increase in the minimum wage. That will help to create jobs.

‘Let’s have a cap on energy bills this winter.

‘Let’s take our message to the streets, let’s carry out protests, direct action, civil disobedience and strike action to support our communities.’

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka insisted: ‘We need a sense of urgency to turn words into action.

‘Seven hundred thousand public sector jobs are to go, and there is record youth unemployment.

‘On pensions we are being told to work until we are 68. On pay 77% of our members say they are fighting for a living wage. The NHS is under siege.

‘We all agree it’s appalling.’

Rose Jones of the FBU said: ‘We want the biggest mobilisation on the 20th of October and we must support all workers taking action.

‘In recent weeks the Essex FBU have been taking action against cuts, and they won support of the local refinery workers.

‘We should support action by the Remploy workers, and don’t forget today East Coast Cleaners are taking action against low pay.

‘We also need to support community campaigners to defend services.

‘Show solidarity and reject the government’s austerity measures.’

Andy Wilson of UCATT said: ‘The construction industry has suffered 400,000 redundancies in four years and the many agency and contract workers aren’t counted in the figures’.

He said that cuts in housing and schools projects ‘are each a blow to the construction industry.

‘We need growth supported by fair taxation.’

Tim Roache of the GMB said: ‘Austerity means working people paying the price of capitalists.

‘We’ve been here before in the 1930s. The depression today has already lasted longer than the 1930s depression.

‘Austerity discourages recovery. Investment funds are refusing to invest. The are capitalists going on strike would you believe.

‘We have a government that is lurching from one U-turn to another. And it’s not funny.

‘We need to get off our backsides and campaign. We’ve kept our heads down too long.’

Darren Ireland of the RMT declared: ‘Across Europe workers are under attack.

‘There is bailout after bailout for a failed economic system. Banks and big business only serve their own interests.

‘Today our cleaners, fighting for better pay, are on strike on the East Coast Main Line for a living wage.

‘We need coordinated action including a General Strike to combat austerity policies across Europe.’

He concluded: ‘We need to fight for a socialist society – that’s a future that works.’

The motion was carried unanimously.

Congress also passed unanimously Composite Motion 13, which called on the TUC to ‘restore, continue and intensify the “All Together for the NHS Campaign” against the Health and Social Care Bill and its impact.

They also passed unanimously motions calling for Fair Taxation, and a motion calling for the public ownership of the banks, and a motion to support youth against youth unemployment, which called for the restoration of EMA and Connexions Youth Services.