DELEGATES to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) yesterday voted overwhelmingly to demand the re-nationalisation of public utilities, in opposition to the TUC leadership’s ‘reservations’.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber introduced the emergency debate on the economy, which included the General Council’s statement on the economy that called for taxing the rich and for interest rate cuts.
He said: ‘The General Council supports Motion 25, but has reservations in respect of the RMT amendment, which has been accepted by Unite.
‘This calls for taking major sections of the British economy into public ownership, including water, gas, electricity and transport.’
He said: ‘Trade unions should defend jobs, not propose a colossal nationalisation programme.’
He claimed: ‘There is not a public appetite for it and it would decimate the public purse.’
Moving Motion 25: the economy, Unite joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, said: ‘Our people and our country are damaged by the economic crisis caused by the super-rich and the City speculators.’
He added that people fear the cold, fuel bills, and for their jobs and even their homes.
He said: ‘This can’t be addressed by “lagging the loft’’, as some crackpots around the prime minister have suggested, without help with fuel bills now, we’ll be lagging the coffins of the elderly if we have a cold winter.’
He added: ‘We in the TUC should make it clear that if any trade unionist refuses to disconnect fuel or power to a pensioner or a family in poverty, they will have our full support.’
He said: ‘I have a message for the prime minister: sweep away the Blairite diehards, put people’s interests before vested interests and bring in a Windfall Tax.
‘If they don’t cooperate, we should legislate and regulate to cap the price increases on utilities and if they still don’t get the message, the government should consider taking these essential industries – water, gas, electricity – back into public ownership.’
John Leach of the RMT, replying to Barber’s ‘reservations’, said on the London Underground, ‘Metronet was brought back in-house, it had to be, it went belly-up.’
The motion on the economy, including the demand for re-nationalisation of the utilities and transport, was passed overwhelmingly.
Moving Emergency Motion 2: The Failing Energy Market, calling for a Windfall Tax on the energy companies to provide financial assistance to the neediest households, Gary Smith, from the GMB, said:
‘Ofgem are going to seek to attack the pensions of gas and electricity workers, and we will fight Ofgem tooth and nail if they do so.’
FBU delegate Dave Green, supporting re-nationalisation of the railways and utilities, said: ‘It’s not so radical. George Bush nationalised Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac.’
• Second news Story
TUC DELEGATES SLAM BROWN’S PRIVATISATION POLICIES
DELEGATES at the TUC Congress in Brighton yesterday voted unanimously to campaign against the privatisation of public services and the further privatisation of the NHS.
Moving Composite Motion 14: Public Services, Jane Carolan of UNISON said: ‘We have been stabbed in the back.
‘NHS services are privatised, local council services continue to go to the highest bidder.’
On the NHS, she said: ‘PFI remains costly, inflexible but very expensive.
‘Thirty-six billion pounds of public money has been spent, at least.’
She warned that: ‘Independent Treatment Centres introduced a competitive, commercial market into the NHS and primary care is the next target.
‘Education is now a commodity.
‘For £2 million, you may or may not actually have to pay, you can have your own Academy school.’
She added: ‘The lack of decent public housing once more threatens to become a national scandal.’
She went on: ‘Now we face a new squeeze on funding and investment, with pressure for cash savings resulting in job losses and cuts in pay.’
Seconding Composite 14, NUT President Bill Greenshields said: ‘Privatisation is the order of the day across the free market world, not because governments have “lost the plot’’, but because very powerful forces demand that everything be turned over to profit.’
He continued: ‘There is no democratic procedural way of stopping privatisation, there’s no prevental vote, no community control over Academies, just the interests of the private sector and, on the other hand, the campaigning strength of local people.’
He continued by calling for unity across the unions and said: ‘We need to reflect on what (POA leader) Brian Caton said yesterday.
‘The government has rejected the power of reason. The battle is on.
‘Many fear that this might lose the Labour Party the election.
‘But there is only one organisation that is going to lose the Labour Party the election – and that’s the Labour Party.
‘Maybe this could be a discussion over dinner tonight,’ he said in a reference to Prime Minister Brown’s scheduled visit to Brighton.
The TUC Congress also voted unanimously for Motion 67 on the Royal Mail.
The motion was moved by Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary.
He said: ‘We say to the Labour government: do not try to sell all or part of the Royal Mail to TNT, Deutsche Post, FedEx or any other private interest.’
He also attacked moves against Royal Mail pensions.
He concluded: ‘We are not going away, we are going to fight the privatisation of Royal Mail and fight for our members’ pensions.’