Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Responding to the 'C' Word


Just back from a few days at the TUC in Liverpool, leaving only after I'd caught Gordon Brown's speech to Congress yesterday afternoon.

Surveying the press this morning it's clear that the movement is taking markedly different positions in response to the statements about cuts in public expenditure with, not surprisingly, those unions affiliated to the party, attempting to spin some degree of positivism out of his statement.

First of the block were PCS with a suggestion that they may go to court to challenge Brown's proposals to make it easy to dismiss civil servants and so cut down on the central government redundancy bill. In typical combative style Mark Serwotka stated that the union would "be taking legal action in the courts about the robbery of people's rights and we will be calling every single member in this country to take industrial action."

In the other corner though Paul Kenny, Dave Prentis and Derek Simpson all commented more positively on a speech that, they argued, ring-fenced frontline services and gave a commitment to increase jobs.

Overall Brown didn't reveal anyting that delegates weren't expecting and as such there wasn't the walkout from the usual suspects as soon as he started to mention the dreaded 'c' word.

In truth however, and certainly in the period in the run up to the general election, the relationship between the party and the trade union movemement will be tense as we rightly try and place a stake on clear commitments to, for example, further reform within financial services, jobs growth and protection for vulnerable groups within the economy if Brown's prescriptions yesterday are to become manifesto commitments.

This is of course against the backdrop of polling evidence in most of the major unions that a majority of members will not be voting labour. If this is indeed the case, is there time to turn their views around and to consolidate broad trade union support for a fourth term?

Your views, as ever are welcome.



No comments: