‘THE WHOLE COUNTRY IS CASUALISED’ – Woodley admits TUC responsibility

Part of the contingent of Gate Gourmet sacked workers with their historic banner outside the TUC Congress yesterday
Part of the contingent of Gate Gourmet sacked workers with their historic banner outside the TUC Congress yesterday

Delegates voted unanimously for Composite 3: ‘Agency Workers’ at the TUC Congress yesterday calling for ‘legislation to outlaw discrimination against agency workers’.

It called on the TUC to campaign to ‘end the exploitation of agency workers’.

Moving the motion, Unite joint general secretary, Tony Woodley, said: ‘There is not a factory or a workplace that does not have a second-class citizen in the workplace.

‘We’ve seen the whole country casualised.

‘We have to take some responsibility in this because we have not organised enough.

‘It’s about exploitation and casualisation.

‘This is not about migrants, it’s about greedy bosses and we’ve got to stop it through legislation.’

He added: ‘The government doesn’t need evidence – on every street corner you can see migrants queuing up for work.

‘A Labour council in Salford was using migrant workers on the refuse to cut wages.’

He concluded: ‘Stop the abuse and stop the racist backlash if this is allowed to continue.’

Seconding, Jeannie Drake, CWU, said: ‘It’s time to take action to stop a one million strong underclass.

‘You can’t have flexibility without exploitation.’

She warned: ‘Royal Mail is using agency workers to undermine the effectiveness of industrial action.

‘It’s unacceptable that workers are being exploited in this way to undermine trade union disputes.’

Speaking in support, Norma Stephenson, UNISON, said: ‘I work in the NHS.

‘Teamworking and skills make a difference to patients.

‘It is wrong to have people side by side working on different conditions.

‘Most agency workers want a contract.

‘We want Warwick to be honoured and not a race to the bottom.’

Delegates went on to vote unanimously for Motion 1: Migrant Workers.

This calls on the TUC General Council to ‘continue to campaign against the exploitation and abuse of migrant workers and to publicise examples of this as widely as possible’.

Moving the motion, David Drever, of the EIS (Scottish teachers union) said: ‘Gordon Brown spoke of British jobs for British workers, and for the need to speak English.

‘He inferred migrant workers are taking British jobs.

‘This is not the case.

‘We have to effectively enforce employment standards, wages and sick pay for migrant workers.’

He added: ‘The education authorities must ensure resources are available for the children of migrant workers.’

Congress also yesterday voted unanimously for Motion 18: Trade Union Rights for Prison Officers.

The motion states: ‘Congress reaffirms its policy to insist that prison officers have returned to them full trade union rights, including the right to restrict and withdraw their labour. . .’

Moving the motion, Brian Caton, POA general secretary, said: ‘We want your support for trade union rights for prison officers.’

He added: ‘We want the right to use the strike weapon if we are being abused.’

Seconding the motion, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: ‘We’ve had a Labour government for 10 and a half years and we still don’t have the right to strike.

‘Nelson Mandela and (Tolpuddle Martyr) George Lovelace both broke the law and history judged them right.

‘What the prison officers did was right and we need to support them too.’