Tuesday, September 12, 2023

TUC Congress 2023: Day Two

Congress started again on Monday at 9.30.  The ACC Liverpool conference centre is in the Kings docks area and it was a pleasant 10 minute walk from the hotel. Outside the conference centre there was a few people canvassing delegates, selling news papers, handing out invites to fringes and leaflets on how to vote on contentious motions. 

The UNISON delegate sits together in the middle of the conference floor near the front. Before business started we welcomed UNISON strikers from Wirral hospital, who spoke to conference about their dispute over pay banding and low pay. Later that morning I had to take part in a teams video call outside the main hall and found right next to me the strikers. I had to go up to them and congratulate them for speaking so well and solidarity for their cause. Sign their petition here

During lunchtime I went to the "What would Workers' Rights look like under a future Labour Government" organised by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group. There was a range of speakers but the main interest was the responses of Justine Madders MP, Shadow Labour Minister on the Future of Work and Employment Rights and Protections. 

The room was packed with standing room only. There was some hostile and suspicious questions and comments about the "Labour New Deal for Working People" but Justine answered all these points very well. He received praise from RMT Mick Lynch about being always prepared to turn up to meetings with the trade unions, listen and engage. 

In the Q&A I explained that myself and around 50 of my unison members have been issued with "fire and rehire" dismissal letters by our employer in an attempt to get rid of our defined benefit pensions. I asked bearing in mind that Labour are committed to ban "hire and refire" what would they replace it with? Justine responded by saying that the vast majority of British people think "hire and refire" is "despicable" and Labour are pledged to make it illegal. He said that Labour are thinking on the lines of the private member bill supported by Lord John Hendy KC.

After conference I attended the Labour Unions fringe. Another packed event. Deputy leader of the Labour Party and Shadow Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Angela Rayner MP, was the keynote speaker. I have known Angela in UNISON since she was a young member and I am so proud of what she has achieved and her pride and acknowledgement over the support and encouragement she had received from her Labour movement family. 

After the fringe I spoke to her about "fire and rehire" and also asked if she would speak again at my UNISON Housing Association Branch Labour Link AGM at the House of Commons and we agreed that I should approach her office to agree a possible date.  

I also had a chat with the other impressive speaker at the fringe, Hannah Blythyn, who is a member of the Welsh Assembly for  Delyn and Deputy Minister for Social Partnership. By coincidence she was brought up only a few miles away from me and we both shared some memories of the "famous" nightclub in Buckley called the "Tivoli", which we think is still open. 

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