Congress believes we face a challenge unprecedented in scale: the ongoing public health crisis, severe economic contraction after a decade of depression, a climate emergency and Brexit uncertainties.
The economy we rebuild cannot represent continuity with the past. Only 12 per cent of people want life to return to how it was. The coronavirus outbreak has exposed fundamental inequalities in society. A ‘people’s bailout’ must be followed by a more equitable recovery than the last.
Congress applauds the magnificent efforts of all workers delivering public services during the coronavirus crisis. It was workers who saw society through the initial wave. Congress notes that despite warm words of praise from the government, their efforts have not met with tangible reward; following years of underinvestment, they are struggling to deliver vital services.
Some of the workers society has depended on the most are those that the economy values the least. More than 200 care workers’ deaths had been linked to coronavirus to 25 May, the highest of any occupation. The median hourly rate for care workers in England was just £8.41 in March 2019, poverty statutory sick pay rates are the norm, and more than a third of care workers were employed on zero-hours contracts.
At the same time, industries that provide high-skilled and well-paid jobs are struggling to survive. To avoid a cliff edge of job losses our manufacturing industries demand a strategy that is more than short-term support. In the automotive sector one in six jobs are already at risk; the aviation crisis threatens our aerospace and metals sectors.
Congress believes further education is central to social and economic recovery through vocational and apprenticeship education meeting the skills needed for industry and public services. Congress notes the forthcoming education white paper and calls affiliates to back publicly owned, publicly accountable, fully funded further education colleges with national collective bargaining.
Workers have borne the brunt of the coronavirus crisis. Congress believes that workers should not have to pay the costs of recovery through further austerity in public services, job cuts and pay freezes.
Congress calls on the TUC to build alliances with industry and campaigning organisations to pressure government and lobby the Labour Party to implement an investment and industrial strategy integrated with long-term wider economic and social policy to meet the scale of this challenge.
This must include:
i. a National Council for Recovery and regional development councils with trade unions central, ensuring workers’ interests are at the forefront and that resources reach every region
ii. a green new deal that creates a new generation of jobs in the industries and infrastructure we need to tackle the climate crisis, transforming our economy to meet international climate obligations with investment in our manufacturing capability and sustainable infrastructure, including electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, construction materials and retrofitting all homes, carbon capture and storage, synthetic aviation fuels and the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. We must build the infrastructure we need for a fully integrated and green public transport system to encourage people to return to public transport when it is safe to do so. We will not meet our climate obligations without more people and goods using our railways, waterways and buses
iii. using the multi-billion public procurement budget to Build Local, Buy UK, to rebuild and re-shore supply chains and jobs
iv. ensuring bailouts reach further than the boardroom, using public ownership and government equity stakes with social obligations where public funds are used, including protecting jobs and pay and ambitious equalities and ‘just transition’ commitments
v. a target of full employment with quality job and pay guarantees for workers and new sector-wide skills councils
vi. economic justice for those most affected by coronavirus
vii. full funding for a significant expansion of public services to meet the needs of the nation and a corresponding expansion in the number of jobs in order to deliver those services, with immediate improvements to pay and progression and sectoral bargaining with the trade unions on the recovery plan to cover all workers in the public sector or delivering services to it
viii. an end to two-tier workforces bringing outsourced public service functions back into public ownership.
ix. urgent reforms to statutory sick pay so that ill workers are not left out of pocket. The recent pandemic has exposed without doubt that SSP is not fit for purpose and is insufficient for people to survive on. This change must involve an increase in SSP to enable workers to receive a living wage whilst they are off sick
x. trade deals that protect UK industries against artificial dumping and protect public services
xi. a shorter working week with no loss of pay to realise the benefits of new technology and to facilitate new green job creation in order to mitigate against mass unemployment
xii. keeping public-sector jobs based in local communities
xiii. ensuring that the needs of workers with protected characteristics are met and that structural discrimination revealed by the pandemic is addressed
xiv. keyworker status for all public sector workers and for outsourced workers providing services to the public sector to enable them to access more affordable housing.
Congress believes unions played a vital role in protecting workers employment and safety during the pandemic and that role will be equally important in the future. The case for powerful trade unions is stronger than ever and Congress reiterates its support for repeal of the anti-trade union laws.
Supporters: Public and Commercial Services Union; University and College Union; National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers; Fire Brigades Union; ASLEF; Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union