Brexit, Trump, workforce casualisation, low wages and NHS privatisation are all on the TUC agenda up north, writes BILL ADAMS
THIS weekend, delegates from the region’s trade union movement will meet in Bradford amid a very uncertain political and economic period.
With Brexit very much on everyone’s mind, the election of Donald Trump in the US and with new risks to the very fabric of the United Kingdom’s survival, ordinary working women and men will attempt to set the priorities of working people for the coming year.
We will seek to unite the workers’ voice in a number of policy areas and seek to combat racism and xenophobia which has seen an increase across the region since the EU referendum.
The conference will attract a record number of delegates and visitors to discuss, debate and, yes, argue at times over the direction of the trade union movement in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary of the TUC, will speak on Saturday to delegates hoping to hear a national perspective from the trade union world.
A number of Yorkshire MPs will be speaking on issues from the NHS, young people and the legacy of the tragically murdered MP Jo Cox whose More in Common campaign will be covered by her replacement in Parliament Tracy Brabin.
High on the trade union agenda will be motions on the continuing privatisation and outsourcing of the NHS and local authority services, many already cut to dangerous levels putting our most vulnerable at risk because of the government’s austerity cuts.
Low wages, welfare reform, in-work benefit cuts, all of which are plunging more of our hard working families into poverty, are also on the agenda.
Delegates will also take part in a discussion on regional devolution with a panel of Lord John Prescott, a representative from the Institute of Directors and trade union input to hear first-hand updates on the different options which may come up in the near future. The future of the north is in our own hands.
Motions also include plans for industrial change to meet the challenge of carbon emissions and the sustainability of our heavy industries, the crisis in housing, education funding and accountability, cuts in transport police resources and closure of ticket offices on rail stations, and yes, the spreading of the controversial driver-only trains dispute being driven by Northern Rail which will affect many routes across the region.
We will be joined by a number of organisations allied to our movement as exhibitors including the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign, Hope not Hate, National Pensioners Committee, Venezuelan Solidarity, the Morning Star and the Bradford Food Bank who have asked delegates to contribute some items of food or cash to help the most vulnerable people in the city.
Bringing the TUC regional council together for the annual meeting also serves as an event where different sector representatives come together in solidarity, something which will prove to be essential in the coming months as Britain’s workers face a very uncertain future outside the European Union and a very unpredictable president in the White House.
Bill Adams is TUC regional secretary of Yorkshire and the Humber.