By Maria Exall
At this year’s Labour Party Conference (25-29 September) the issue of trade union rights will be centre stage for the first time since 1997. And appropriately so. The situation with the Gate Gourmet workers has written large what is wrong with the Blairite commitment to the “flexible labour market”.
The TGWU has submitted a contemporary resolution on employment rights in the light of the Gate Gourmet dispute. It calls for legal “supportive” action along the lines of the emergency motion agreed at the recent TUC Conference. Included in the motion is the demand for adherence to ILO conventions, a “simplification” of balloting procedures and for an implementation of the EU Agency Workers’ Directive. It is believed that there will be unanimous trade union support for the motion, and that will guarentee it is carried.
Other union motions will be: from the GMB on pensions; from UNISON on opposition to the extension of the use of the private sector in public services; from AIMCUS on liberalisation and deregulation; and from the CWU seeking affirmation of the committment not to privatise Royal Mail.
Expected motions from the Constituency Labour Parties will be on scraping Trident, Defending Council Housing, against the “shoot to kill” policy of the Met police, and agaisnt the privatisation of the Caledonian McBrayne ferries. Also likely are motions on Iraq.
The various Labour left organisations will be meeting during Conference. They will be orgnising to support progressive changes to Labour Party Rules. The “Partnership in Power” procedure will be under the spotlight. A constitutional amendment tabled by the CWU that allows amendments to Policy Forum documents at Conference would return much power to trade unions and CLPs. Unfortunately the trade unions are split on the issue, so it is touch and go whether it will pass.
The Labour Representation Committee has a rally on the Wednesday of the Conference with speakers including union leaders and left MPs. Labour Against the War, Labour Briefing and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy are are holding events during the week.