Organisers: Your time time has come!
Congress may have been smaller this year in terms of the venue and the number of delegates, but the annual gathering of the movement threw up a huge challenge; to organise what in the words of TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will be “the biggest trade union mobilisation in a generation.”
The aim of this mobilisation is clear; to take the call for pension justice to every worker in the public AND private sector and to highlight the real pensions scandal in the UK today; that we live in country where two thirds of workers in the private sector don’t have a pension at all and where many face poverty in old age because they need every penny available today to get by. We’ll also be reminding people that the coalition government’s attack on public sector pensions is nothing to do with fairness or affordability but about making hundreds of thousands of low paid workers pay for the financial crisis caused by the banks.
Making sure that this mobilisation is successful will require us to use every skill and resource at our disposal. Fortunately we come to this task prepared.
Since 1998 the TUC and unions have developed a full range of organising skills and increased the resources we devote to this task. In some cases this has involved re-learning traditional skills and in others adopting new and innovative approaches to building union strength. Unions have employed new staff and some have created whole new organising departments.
But all of this is done in the knowledge that the most valuable resources in the movement are all around us; our reps, members and potential members whose knowledge, passion and commitment are our most valuable asset.
So as we prepare for November 30th the work of the TUC Organising Team will be focused on helping officers, organisers and reps harness these resources; to turn as many potential members into actual members and members into activists.
In the next few weeks we’ll be launching UnionRepsAction! a new set of online resources on our unionreps website. These are essentially easy to follow step-by-step guides to building stronger unions and increasing activism in the workplace and beyond. Accompanying this will be a pocket guide to organising and campaigning.
We’ll also be consulting with our colleagues in each TUC region to see how we can support regional efforts to build for the 30th. One activity that might be useful at a regional level is to organise ‘Action Saturdays’ where we come together as unions to plan and prepare for the 30th. As well as itraditional campaign activities such as leafleting town centres etc Action Saturday activities could include informal training and briefing sessions open to all regardless of whether or not they’re current union members.
To make November 30th the success that so many union members and working people more generally need it to be will require a genuine collective effort and require us all to remember what Brendan Barber said when he opened Congress and spoke of the challenges ahead for the movement and our members;
“It’s one we shouldn’t take on lightly. It’s not something for you just to mandate Congress House to do. Not an issue where you pass the responsibility.
‘Instead it’s one where we recognise that the TUC is more than the staff and offices where we meet this year. It’s every union, every officer, every activist, every member.”
Brendan is correct – organisers, your time has come!