The AGM of what was formerly known as South-east Region TUC (“SERTUC”), took place on Saturday and did have some very worthwhile content, as well as seeing the beginning of a discussion about how to take the campaigning strategy of the movement forwards. We got two big name speeches to start us off: Mayor of London Said Khan and TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.
After paying tribute to Workers’ Memorial Day (a minute’s silence was held), Sadiq focused on some of the pro-worker policies that he has enacted in City Hall. A London living wage of £10.20 per hour is being rolled out, to contractors as well as employees, and the London government will pushing for a Good Work Standard throughout the city. He also spoke about housing, revealed the shocking statistic that people in the 30s currently fleeing the city because they simply cannot afford the cost of living. To combat this, the Tory definition of “affordable housing”, which was 80% of market rent, has finally been scrapped. Sadiq’s definition now consists of:
- Council housing
- Living rent of 33% of average
Much to my satisfaction as a transport worker, Sadiq confirmed that his administration will be fighting to get to London Transport a proper government maintenance grant, as was agreed as policy at London Labour regional conference in November.
Frances O’Grady started her speech with the contrast with last year’s AGM, which had been days after the calling of the snap general election and when we were anticipating a very poor result. She called on comrades to celebrate the success of the “best ever Labour manifesto… that had many of our policies”. She then proceeding to talk about Carillion, which she described as the sign that we should now demand that outsourcing as an entire model comes to a final end. Briefly mentioning Brexit, she reiterated that our movement will blame bad businesses, never workers, for cuts and low wages, a clear reference to the Windrush scandal.
Once the elections and business were done, there were four motions, which all passed:
- A motion from Oxford trades councils calling for greater scrutiny of the safety and conditions in youth and immigration detention centres.
- A motion moved by RMT and supported disabled activists calling for solidarity with all rail workers engaged in industrial action to stop the creeping and totally excessive expansion of automation in our transport systems. This is now Labour policy and represents a real step forward in the discussion on this issue from last year.
- A motion moved by RMT and seconded by TSSA on the now severe funding crisis in Transport for London.
- A motion against DWP office closures from PCS.
The next major event of the TUC is the demonstration on May 12th, but numerous speakers, including Saidq Khan and Fraces O’Grady, referenced that we must all protest the invitation of Donald Trump to London on July the 13th. What I think is starting to take shape, though, is a view that the TUC needs to do more focused work on things like McStrike or the Picturehouse strikers that will support our unions in recruiting and organising workers in new sectors.