Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

TUC congress: day two

Day two of TUC Congress and the government’s programme of cuts continues to loom large over proceedings. The morning’s debate was based upon a strongly held belief by the trade union movement that every worker is entitled to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect, especially given the UK workforce is one of the most diverse in the world.

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Equality is of central importance to trade unions and much of the progress made on equalities over the last few decades can be attributed to the pressure placed on successive governments by the trade union movement. As important as legislation, if not more so, has been the change in society’s attitudes much – making the United Kingdom a more liberal and progressive country in which to live and work.

Despite the progress made, especially over the last 13 years, much more remains to be done and much achieved so far is currently at risk.

Trade unions are concerned that the major advances on equalities over 40 years are now at risk as a result of the impact of the ConDem government’s cuts.

Some 72 per cent of the cuts already announced by the government in their budget earlier in the summer will be borne by women, compared with 28 per cent from men. Women also comprise 65 per cent of the public sector workforce. There can be no doubt whatsoever that women will be disproportionately affected by the policies of this government.

Attacks on minority and less privileged groups are trumpeted by the government as flagship policies including arbitrary caps on immigration, demonisation of people on incapacity benefit and the abolition of ‘non-jobs’ in the public sector, many of which provide invaluable to support to the most vulnerable in society. All of these attacks and the associated rhetoric has taken place in little more than 100 days since the election.

The impact of all areas of the reforms and cuts proposed by the coalition government needs to be assessed, analysed and scrutinised as part of a process of equality-proofing public policy.

Too often in the past workers and the public have been told that equality is an unaffordable and anticompetitive aspiration. Doubtless we can expect claims from those committed to the ideology of deregulation and privatisation over the coming years. However, TUC unions have reaffirmed their commitment to lead from the front in making it clear that an attack on equality is a policy that society really can’t afford.


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Chris Weavers

is principal official (parliamentary and trade union liaison) at NASUWT


  • What improvement over the last 13 years, it’s bullshit like this that annoys people so much they walk away from the Unions. I worked for a company which when I joined had 480 people working in it all in a union, by the end of my time working with it, it had 380 people working for it, and only three people were in the Union, ask anyone why you did not join they were Polish we do not want to strike, or they were agency, Unions are no go to us, or like me, in a Union but really had given up. The fact is what the hell did Labour do for the working class not a lot it did more for the public sector it did more for the white collar workers then it did for me, and boy once I had my accident at work once the claims for compensation was over the Union just said thanks now piss off…. ah yes the min wage that pulled a million off low wages, and put them into what a take home wage of £130 a week it’s now standing at £170…. you get your rent and council tax paid on the dole and £60 a week you were actually better off on the dole and still are. then you have Labour removing the 10p tax band which did help the poorest, yes yes a mistake yes my ass a mistake.

  • well for a start Labour ‘gated’ the flood which WILL come now from the Tories ,hold on mate if you want to see the ‘working class’ treated badly ! It’s Capitalism that is to blame,but none of us know the answer to what the alternative is,it’s like asking if you believe in God or not,most of us will just shrug and say ‘dunno’.Those up for a ruck will vote for Ed M. to lead Labour I suppose,I prefer David’s sweet talk approach to progress ,with underlying,intelligent planning of course.

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