The motion below was carried at the National Trades Council conference in Leicester at the weekend of 11/12 June, where two of the five delegates from South Yorkshire were Sheffield Left members, and will be the Trades Council motion going to the TUC Annual Conference:
'Organise the Unorganised – Linking with Trades Councils
This National Trade Union Councils Conference calls on the whole trade union movement to join with us in a mission to organise the unorganised and bring trade unionism back to all workers in our towns and cities. For far too long we have witnessed the collapse in union membership and the demise of collective bargaining as the main vehicle for setting wages and conditions. With rapidly declining living standards and a tight labour market, there is now a historic opportunity to recruit and organise workers to fight back and strike for higher pay and better conditions.
Conference applauds efforts made by some Trades Councils e.g., Sheffield TUC’s “Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise” to form a partnership with BFAWU to put a Union Organiser on the streets. This model has now been extended to Leeds and Rotherham. BFAWU is now keen to extend this “Union Towns” model with other Trades Councils elsewhere in the UK. However, it does not have to be an exclusively BFAWU model. We call on other national unions to explore similar relationships with local Trade Union Councils.
Trades Union Councils are an essential link for the trade union movement into our local communities. Organising on a town or city basis across different employers and economic sectors can have a significant impact on levels of union consciousness and activity on local workers who become inspired by local victories. The experience of Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise is that workers get to know of union breakthroughs in similar workplaces and want some of the same action for themselves.
Organised workers in trade union branches who are affiliated to their local Trade Union Council know that de-unionisation of their local labour market has led to a collapse in wage rates, the rise of zero hours contracts and other forms of exploitative employment practices, insecure employment, minimum or no sick pay or holiday pay. We have been horrified to see bullying, sexual harassment and racism go unchallenged in such workplaces.
We cannot afford to let this become the norm whilst multinational employers rake in the profits. That’s why local union branches have proved their willingness to help fund a Union Organiser in their local town or city. The key is to work with Trade Union Councils at a local level to rebuild trade unionism and we call upon the TUC General Council to advertise this motion to all its affiliates as soon as possible after this conference, highlighting the key sentence “We call on other national unions to explore similar relationships with local Trade Union Councils.'