[2022] C18 Rebuilding industrial power, supporting collective action and fighting for a new deal for workers

carried motion
Carried motion

Received from: ,

Motions 62, 63 plus amendment, 64 and 65

Congress recognises the need for unions to focus on collective action and industrial power to best represent and advance the interests of workers. and come together in leading the fight for a new deal for workers and a new social settlement for Britain. Congress underlines the role unions must play in achieving social justice and fairness for working people, the importance of articulating that change is possible. The collective is the real power of the trade union movement.

Congress prioritises supporting workers in dispute and organising and mobilising workers through trade unions to give them the industrial power to fight for decent jobs, pay and conditions.

High inflation, particularly affecting people on low incomes, and rising energy bills mean that millions do not know how they will make ends meet, feed themselves, heat their homes and pay their bills. Congress believes that the crisis in living standards and the attacks on jobs that workers are suffering requires the trade union movement to organise coordinated industrial action.

Congress believes that workers must not be made to pay for the cost-of-living crisis while profits rise. Wages were suppressed in response to the economic crisis in 2008 and they have never recovered.

Congress notes that rocketing inflation and employers’ attacks on pay and conditions to maintain profits are compounding falls in real earnings for the majority of the population over many years. Unless challenged, this will further increase the distribution of wealth and power in favour of the rich at the expense of the working class.

A Unite Investigates report has exposed how corporate profiteering – not workers’ wages – has been driving inflation. We can’t afford to accept another national pay cut to subsidise profits.

Congress notes that in recent months Unite has led and won over 300 disputes involving some 60,000 members who have been on strike winning over £50m for members across hundreds of employers. This demonstrates the power of coordinated action.

Workers are now being asked to exercise pay restraint because of inflation. Congress rejects government propaganda that increasing wages lead to inflation. In reality, inflation is driven by corporations passing on higher costs, such as fuel, and increasing profits.

Staff shortages in public services that are already struggling with the increased demands caused by the pandemic and by Brexit are causing enormous stress and threaten the health and wellbeing of many thousands of people in the UK Civil Service. Congress condemns the announcement by the government that it intends to cut 91,000 jobs. This would equate to closing 10 government departments and mean large scale reductions in services.

Congress congratulates and supports all unions taking industrial action to fight back for better pay and defending jobs, conditions, and pensions, including those taking strike action on the railways and London Underground. We note that, despite a media onslaught, there is widespread sympathy for strikes. Strong public support for a range of disputes is clear despite disgraceful attempts by the government ministers to demonise striking workers and divide workers. Recent disputes clearly show that when unions fight, we increase our appeal to non-unionised workers.

Unions made it clear at the successful 18 June TUC demonstration that saying “enough is enough” was only the start and that the movement is committed to delivering the biggest trade union led campaign ever.

Congress notes the adoption of the ‘new deal’ branding by the Labour Party but reaffirms that this must be a distinct trade union-led campaign which is not just a response to the cost-of-living crisis but the foundation of a wider social movement that empowers working-class people in the fight for real change.

Congress agrees that trade unions must lead the defence of working people in the UK.

Congress believes the Labour Party should not stand on the side-lines but should support our picket lines at the heart of this struggle and workers taking strike action to defend and improve living standards via the redistribution of wealth.

Congress calls on the General Council to:

i. inform and give confidence to workers about the justice of demanding decent pay

ii. actively encourage, facilitate, organise, support industrial coordination and a united campaign of coordinated industrial action between unions so that workers in dispute can most effectively harness their union power to win. Including convening a working group of unions in the public and private sectors to plan and coordinate action on pay and jobs

iii. start the race to the top by agreeing common bargaining agendas across sectors of the economy to end in-work poverty, fire and rehire and all forms of exploitative employment

iv. agree an autumn 2022 programme of ‘town hall’ meetings and rallies across the country and link up with community organisations to build collectivism, solidarity, and mobilisation

v. launch innovative forms of collective action that all workers can participate in before the end of 2022

vi. hold special Executive and General Council meetings to sharpen the overall industrial and political demands of the campaign

vii. embark on the biggest recruitment campaign ever and for unions to engage in conversation about collaboration across industries. Congress notes that unions report membership gains during periods of publicised activity and action

viii. report progress in the campaign for joint action to affiliates on a monthly basis.

Mover: Unite
Seconder: Communication Workers Union
Supporters: Public and Commercial Services Union; RMT; National Education Union