In Brighton trade unionists took a stance significantly to the left of where last week's Labour conference ended up.
TUC delegates took the decisive step of passing of a Prison Officers Association motion accepting that the trade union movement must, along with others, continue "leading from the front" against the government - not least because it also talked of "taking co-ordinated action where possible with far-reaching campaigns, including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike."
Alongside the decision of Congress to reaffirm support for the principles outlined in the People's Charter and Charter for Women, along with urging affiliates to build support in workplaces, communities and trades councils, and we might judge that we have the making of a short-term tactical approach that could lead the movement well forward.
It's notable also that the TUC determined to give "full support to all groups of workers in the private or public sector who take industrial action against cuts or attacks on pay, jobs, pensions or conditions of service and co-ordinating unions taking strike action."
Finding ways to connect with the larger public on such an agenda demands greater attention to the charter movement.
Contrast this with Labour conference last week.
There has been advice aplenty from union leaders that Labour should reconnect with the working class by campaigning on key issues such as jobs, pay and public services. Trade unionists such as Dave Prentis not only went to Manchester making clear that any freeze in public-sector pay was unacceptable, but they said so.
But whoever claims that the choice is of jobs or pay is just plain wrong. Workers haven't had either.
Ed Balls's "austerity-lite" economic policies drew such advance criticism that it may have left him with no option but to respond to a call for windfall takings from the fourth generation mobile phone spectrum sell-off to be spent on building 100,000 new homes and providing a two-year stamp duty holiday.
Yet even that is a one-off and hardly a neoliberal U-turn.
And "Red" Ed Miliband's big idea seems to be not to tell anyone what's going to be in Labour's manifesto until the last possible moment.
GMB general secretary Paul Kenny told conference, starkly and rightly, that strike action is a basic human right and that Labour must address the "balance of power" and corruption that has become the world of work for so many.
Unions have pressed hard to win support for the idea that employment rights should feature prominently in the next election manifesto. Whether this becomes the case may depend on the announcement by Unite that it seeks 5,000 trade unionists to enter Labour with a view to changing policies.
Either way, this will be the test of the next stage in a so far unsuccessful strategy to reclaim Labour for progressive policies which was best argued for by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey.
It's still early days on that agenda, but conflicting signs were revealed on the first day of the Labour conference. In new Labour-ish vein, chair Harriet Yeo called one vote as carried after a show of hands, lambasting delegates who wanted to have a counted vote as "wasting conference time."
In contrast, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones told delegates that a £15 billion investment plan for the next decade will help build new schools, roads and hospitals.
Although Scottish Labour still spouts neoliberalism, it could easily win the next election outright with clear policies to take on the banking system and utilities providers return public transport to public ownership.
This would require taxes on the rich and monopoly profits channelled into investment in jobs, affordable housing and a health system providing care freely at the point of use.
But what is the actuality this month in Britain?
As a society, we are still chasing the dragon of future pension resources based on stockmarket gambling. While automatic enrolment into workplace pensions has just begun, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that wage earners at the lower end get something additional to the state pension, there is no real change on the horizon to the impoverished nature of the latter.
For the low paid, the minimum wage has just risen 11p to £6.19 an hour, yet that 1.8 per cent lift is well below pay increases and the rising cost of living. And don't let's forget that for those under 21s, for whom hourly wage rates range from a paltry £2.65 to £4.98.
Against this backdrop, Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg aim to privatise the NHS and secondary schools in England and, despite a recent assessment that Britain needs to increase the number of science, technology, engineering and maths graduates by half, there is little prospect in training for industry.
Can they really get away with this? Only if we let them.
But will working-class people get up off their knees?
Electorates in EU countries may have been wobbling, but over how far left to go rather than whether to shift far to the right.
Greek, French, Italian and now Dutch voters are pulling back a little to the centre, although the true left has not largely lost support. But outright support for neoliberalism does not attract.
Have Miliband and Balls really got that message?
We have to shout as loud as we can until they do.
Major demonstrations and rallies taking place in London, Glasgow and Belfast on October 20 are as good a place as any to make our voices heard.
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