From the TUC

Strong unions turning the tide

11 Mar 2013, By

TUC President Lesley Mercer, from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, reports on the 20th anniversary conference of Unions 21 last Friday. She spoke too, and you can see her remarks on YouTube.

Great theme.  Great conference. The first instalment of an inquiry into how the tide can be turned on unfair work was launched. Drawing on polling results from Survation, the report looks at how the gap in pay and power in UK plc can be addressed.  It argues that high performing and fair workplaces, in step with Europe, are key to a sustainable recovery. The polling suggests that public support for this could be won, but only if workplace concerns are given a higher priority by the political parties.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the conference heard from keynote speakers Frances O’Grady, Jon Cruddas who is co-ordinating Labour’s policy review and Ian Lavery, chair of Labour’s trade union group of MPs.  TUC women’s officer Scarlet Harris delivered a spirited appeal for ‘completing the revolution’ in terms of equality in the workplace.  And Dr Brian Walker of Huddersfield University gave an update on how the perceptions of unions in the media had changed over the past 20 years (in a nutshell: not a lot!)

A new twist to the conference – for me at any rate – was a ‘change the nation’ session.  Participants were given 90 seconds to present an idea for a campaign that unions should make common cause with, followed by 2 minutes of fast paced Q & As from the audience. Run by Pragrad, the 11 ideas presented showed how content and pitch combine to produce in a winner.  Or in this case, joint winners, one for a campaign on interns and the other on making public services accountable to those who use them.  Unions 21 will be working with both of the winning contestants to give them a wider platform for their ideas.

Ending the conference was an award for the best writer on Union’s 21’s blog website UnionHome.  Congrats to Simon Sapper of CWU, now proud possessor of a rather fetching plaque, and runner up Joe Dromey of IPA.