Trades Union Congress: Union rights and war hot topics

Submitted by Anon on 10 September, 2003 - 1:16

Maria Exall looks ahead at the issues that are due to be debated at the Trades Union Congress, meeting in Brighton from 8 to 12 September.
This year the Trades Union Congress meets with the issue of employment rights at the top of the agenda.

There is a motion from the GPMU deploring the Government's failure to include rights for union recognition for small firms and a lifting of the 40% threshold for "Yes" votes in recognition ballots in the new Employment Relations Act. It also calls on the Government to lift the block off the Temporary/Agency Workers Directive that would equalise employment rights with permanent employees.

The motion also calls for the removal of the rights of a company to dismiss workers after eight weeks in dispute, as was done to the Friction Dynamex workers.

The T&G has an amendment calling for the right of unions to engage in secondary action. The RMT has also submitted a motion noting existing TUC policy for the repeal of the anti-union laws and calling for the TUC General Council to organise a march and rally in 2004 for trade union and employment rights.

There are motions on the threat of the BNP, from CWU and NATFHE, that reject the scapegoating of asylum seekers and call for the trade union movement to work with black, LGB, political, religious and trade union organisations to secure united action against the fascists.

Other equality issues due to be debated are the new sexual orientation anti-discrimination legislation and its exemption for religious organisations, and the gender pay gap.

On Tuesday of conference Gordon Brown is due to address the Congress. Some of the issues being debated, such as the issue of top-up fees for higher education, will be warm-ups for the debates at Labour Party conference later this month.

Unison and the T&G have submitted motions opposing the creation of Foundation Hospitals.

There are several motions on the issue of Iraq and the Middle East peace process, including one from the T&G appealing to international law and calling for the withdrawal of US and UK military forces from Iraq, support for independent rade union organisations in Iraq, and a two states solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The NUM has submitted an amendment calling for the Palestinian refugees' inalienable right to return.

The RMT motion condemns the British and US governments' decision to wage war on Iraq.

Other motions cover a variety of issues, including the exploitation of migrant workers, corporate manslaughter, work-life balance, and the problems associated with offshore working.

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