TUC 2015 IER report

25 Sep 2015| News

25 September 2015

The Institute attended this year’s Trade Union Congress on the 13th-16th of September. This is a short report of our highlights of the conference, which we believe will have a significant bearing on the tact of the movement in the year ahead.

The Institute of Employment Rights (IER) and the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom (CTUF) were both present at the TUC this year in Brighton. Our two stalls were situated next to each other with our ‘Kill the bill’ slogan being the prominent theme.

The IER & CTUF stall and team at TUC conference with Frances O’Grady

The TUC of course had a very different feel to it this year. Jeremy Corbyn came to address congress directly, 2 days after a monumental victory and freshly elected as Labour leader with an astounding 59.5% of the vote in the first round.

At congress, the Institute launched its two newest publications. ‘The Conservative governments proposed strike ballot thresholds’ by Professor Ralph Darlington and Dr John Dobson is a detailed analysis of what the proposed ballot thresholds would mean when applied retrospectively to previous historical trade union ballots. The publication also explores how the proposed ballots would work in practice going forward if they are brought in, as well as what avenues the movement may be able to take to work around these arbitrary thresholds if they are imposed.

Also launched at TUC was ‘Protect the right to strike: Kill the bill’ by Professor Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC. The ‘Kill the bill’ booklet was being given away free at TUC and went down a storm. The booklet highlights a number of issues around the bill, as well as exploring issues where the proposed bill may contravene international standards. The content from this booklet was also printed as a special pull-out in the Morning Star newspaper on September the 15th. Both the Morning Star and IER are considering doing another print run because of the amount of orders continuing to come in for them.

As part of the activity on the stall we ran a competition for a Kindle Fire HD. The lucky winner of this competition was Ellen Bell Davies

Winner Ellen Bell Davies, enjoying her new Kindle Fire HD and copies of ‘Kill the bill’ and ‘Conservative ballot thresholds’.

On Sunday the 13th, the Institute held its #killthebill fringe jointly with CTUF. The fringe was extremely well attended, with standing room only. Speakers were Carolyn Jones (IER Director), John Hendy QC (IER Chair), Keith Ewing (IER President), Sarah Veale (TUC), Len McCluskey (Unite General Secretary), John McDonnell (Labour Shadow Chancellor) and Chris Stephens (SNP MP). All speakers discussed a different aspect of the bill and how the movement should respond to it. To get a feel for the things being discussed, see our social media feed from the event.

The imminent Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell addressing our kill the bill fringe

On Monday the 14th the Centre of Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) held a fringe meeting on ‘After the Election: Where next for the labour movement?’ Speakers included Dave Ward (CWU General secretary), Rebecca Winson (GMB young member and activist), Steve Turner (Unite Assistant General Secretary), Megan Dobney (SER TUC) and Ellie Mae O’Hagan (Guardian newspaper journalist). There were a number of positive steps discussed in this meeting regarding the unions’ stance on the Labour party, the strategies of the right wing press, and also what the labour movement needs to do to fight tory advances, as well as preparing for a 2020 election. In questions and comment our National Coordinator James Harrison spoke about the movement sending a strong and clear message to kill the trade union bill and fight for a trade union freedom bill that not only enshrines trade union rights, but also actively promotes union democracy in the workplace.

Congress of course debated the Conservative’s pernicious ‘trade union reform bill’ in composite motion C18, details of which can be found on the TUC website This motion was passed. Details of the result of this and other decisions made at TUC can be found here.

On Tuesday Jeremy Corbyn made his speech to TUC. He pledged to “fight the trade union bill, repeal the act if it goes through and replace it with union freedoms when elected”. This was of course well received and a breath of fresh air for most people in the movement. See his full address to conference on the below video.

On Wednesday congress drew to a close. With strong consensus on some key issues and a Labour party that is willing to work with the trade union movement, the fight back starts now.