TUC

Work or full pay for all

The government has scaled back the weakening of its job support schemes — without significant labour movement pressure. If the labour movement fights, we can win more. The original, pre-October furlough and self-employment schemes were stingy enough, and they are still being cut. But the latest changes for after 31 October (increasing the state contribution to employers to keep jobs from 22 to 49%, and reducing the number of hours workers must work; doubling the payment to self-employed people from 20 to 40% of normal income) are real concessions. Neither trade unions nor the Labour Party have...

How to fight for jobs

The government’s figures say unemployment could approach five million next year. Young, women and BME workers are being and will be hit hardest. The government is driving ahead with the gutting of the furlough and self-employed support schemes, and with a rushed-through hard Brexit which will further batter the economy. This unemployment crisis is also one of low pay and insecurity. Even before the pandemic, almost four million workers were in highly insecure employment. Since the virus hit, the number of workers on zero hours contracts has passed a million for the first time — with the...

TUC report reveals racism but offers no answer

A TUC report, Dying on the job: racism and risk at work, has revealed the deep-seated racism that underlies the higher impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic (BME) people, but its proposals fall well short of what is needed. In the early days of the pandemic, it became clear that BME people were dying at a significantly greater rate. Compared with white people, black people are more than four times as likely to die from Covid-19, Bangladeshi and Pakistani people more than one-and-a-half times as likely. While the government tried to portray this as a mystery requiring medical study...

Labour movement activists on why we must take over the banks

The 2019 TUC Congress passed a proposal from the Fire Brigades Union for “public ownership of the big banks, which could play a central role in building a sustainable economy, investing in a publicly owned energy sector and creating decent, unionised jobs in the interests of working people”. No one opposed the motion – but very few are actually advocating or campaigning for this. Here we quote a range of labour movement activists and representatives on why it is so essential. In the current situation, as we face an implosion of credit and a snowballing slump, against the background of the...

Fight the epidemic - yes. Back the Tories - no

The Labour Party has made some important demands for the Covid-19 crisis, including improving the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which underwrites part of wages and extending it to the self-employed; insisting employers guarantee to keep people in work; and increasing a range of benefits. The problem is that the party shows no sign of campaigning around these demands. Its leadership acts as if that the epidemic obliges it to express positive support for the Tory government. Big demonstrations and crowded public meetings are obviously out at the moment. But Labour wasn’t going in for those...

How unions should tackle sexism

It’s HeartUnions from 10 to 16 February 2020. I was reminded of the week of activity, highlighting the work of unions, by a parcel from the TUC arriving at my union office announcing the focus this year is on sexual harassment. It was accompanied by a letter from our co-ordinated industrial leadership, bringing together 48 unions and 5.5 million members, and declaring “a radical yet practical plan” to end sexual harassment. Over 1/2 women and nearly 7/10 LGBT workers are sexually harassed in the workplace. Subjecting women to fear, shame, and discomfort in a workplace, street or union meeting...

Industrial news in brief

Tube union RMT suspended strikes planned by drivers on London Underground’s Central and Victoria Lines on 3-4 September, after bosses made a number of concessions. The issues at the heart of the dispute include authoritarian management culture on both lines, and driver numbers on the Central Line particularly. The union remains in dispute and activists say strikes should be reinstated if management renege on agreements. Plans for TUC congress At the time of writing discussions are taking place among labour movement anti-coup people about activities at the 2019 TUC Congress (8-11 September, in...

TUC congress: one step forward, two steps back

TUC Congress 2018 closed with its accustomed dearth of fanfare, with little to suggest it will be a major political factor in British politics over the coming period. The one glint of hope was the discussion on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), where speaker after speaker stood up to make the case for self-determination on trans rights. Behind the scenes several union leaderships, including some regarded as left, have joined the chorus of opposition to changing the GRA on the grounds of women’s self-organisation. But the Congress discussion was dominated by contributions from a range of women...

TUC votes for gender self-ID

TUC Conference has unanimously backed a motion from the TUC LGBT+ committee which supports “the introduction of a social rather than medical model of gender recognition that will help challenge repressive gender stereotypes in the workplace and in society.” The motion was a response to the government's current consultation on changes to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, which will run until the start of October. The unanimous decision is especially welcome given the scaremongering surrounding the issue of gender self-declaration that has taken place in the trade union movement, although...

Corbyn pledges more public ownership: Nationalise utilities and banks!

Editorial from Solidarity 462 Speaking at a Labour Party event on 10 February, Jeremy Corbyn reaffirmed Labour’s 2017 manifesto pledge “to bring energy, rail, water, and mail into public ownership and to put democratic management at the heart of how those industries are run”. “By taking our public services back into public hands”, he said, “we will not only put a stop to rip-off monopoly pricing, we will put our shared values and collective goals at the heart of how those public services are run”. He promised “a society which puts its most valuable resources, the creations of our collective...

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