TUC 2009 - Wednesday afternoon

16 September 2009

Tony Conway of the Government Office Network opened PCS's interventions on the third afternoon of the TUC conference.

Speaking on the subject of ‘jobs, recession and redundancy rights’ (composite motion 3), Tony told delegates that the media’s view of the recession as being over did not match the reality of people’s lives.

Tony compared the 8,000 fixed term jobs that have been created in the Department for Work and Pensions with the 30,000 that have been cut. He outlined some of the effects of the recession, including large layoffs, older workers sacked at 55 with no hope of training or protection, young people dismissed and reemployed on the minimum wage or on the dole with little prospect of getting benefits.

“Employers are failing in their legal and moral responsibilities,” said Tony, who urged delegates to stand together and take action.

“It is all about condemning exploitation. It’s all about unified action. It’s all about raising rights.”

Debating the anti-trade union laws

Opposing motion 7 on trade union rights and freedoms, Cheryl Gedling of the national executive, told delegates the union’s position did not reflect a lack of support for the Prison Officer Association’s campaign.

The motion called on ‘all affiliated trade unions and the TUC general council to organise a series of street demonstrations throughout the UK and selective days on which unions will break the anti-trade union laws by taking a general strike’.

“We support the POA’s right to defend their members and take industrial action if necessary,” said Cheryl. “We also share the POA’s disgust at the Labour government’s support for big business and its failure to repeal the Thatcher government’s anti-trade union laws.

“We support the POA on principle but differ on tactics. It is our judgement that we could not deliver the action called for in the motion.”

Quoting several examples of workers who have defied the anti-union laws – the Lindsey oil refinery, the Belfast car parts factory Linemar and the Vestas wind turbine factory – Cheryl said there was no doubt the POA could “deliver the action called for in the motion.”

Cheryl finished by saying, “we stand in full solidarity with the POA and understand your frustration.”

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