Always a pleasure to be with you sisters.
The time for sisterly solidarity feels more urgent than ever.
In the last few weeks we’ve had a New Right Polish member of the European Parliament assert that women deserve to get paid less because we are smaller, weaker and less intelligent than men.
We discovered that Uber doesn’t just rip off its drivers. It also gives license to sexual harassment of its women engineers too.
And, to add insult to injury hands out free leather jackets to its male engineers as a thank-you; but says that women engineers won’t get jackets because they don’t employ enough women to warrant placing an order.
And that’s before we get onto the subject of the Budget yesterday.
From a government led by a woman but that puts women last.
A government that can find spare cash to cut corporation tax but can’t find the cash to reverse cuts to universal credit.
That shells out good money on grammar schools but says it can’t properly fund the rest of education or the NHS.
That claims to be the party of working people but, year after year, refuses to give public sector workers, most of them women, that most basic of rewards for hard work – a decent pay rise.
But trade union women keep on pushing back.
We’ve campaigned for a woman’s right to choose in Ireland and Poland. And we’re ready to defend it here in the UK too.
We’ve said a big ‘no’ to sexist dress codes – whether to wear high heels should be a choice women make, not their bosses.
And women have been at the heart of our continuing campaign against that nasty, undemocratic, freedom denying Trade Union Act.
So thank you everyone for your hard work.
Conference, I’m proud of our collective resilience.
Determined that we should shout louder about our success.
And confident that we’re the ones who’ll get to shape our own future.
But I have to be frank with you.
We face the toughest political and economic climate I can remember.
A right-wing Tory government; the profound uncertainty of Brexit; the alarming spread of right-wing nationalism including, not least in the form of that orange nightmare that is Donald Trump. And his mini-me Nigel Farage.
I hope that President Trump doesn’t get that state visit to Britain.
But if he does, I think we have an opportunity to show the depth of our disapproval.
To demonstrate our support for our friends in the United States.
And to spell out, loud and clear, the new deal on jobs, rights and voice that working people really need.
And sisters, I hope you will agree with me that, black and white, gay and straight, young and old, disabled or not, it must be women who are up there at the front of that protest.
An action plan for challenging racism and xenophobia.
The immediate aftermath of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union has seen a dramatic upsurge in reports of racist abuse and hate crime directed at EU and other migrants and British BME communities.
Racist violence, abuse and harassment are not new and did not suddenly appear during or after the referendum on EU membership. But it appears that the negative portrayal of migrants during the campaign has given confidence to some with racist attitudes to voice their view publicly, and has increased the visibility of the far right.
This paper sets out what government and employers can and should do now to tackle racism and xenophobia. Our key areas for recommendations are:
1. Swift government action on hate crime
2. A cross-government action plan to tackle racism and discrimination
3. Zero tolerance of racism and harassment at work
4. Strengthening anti-discrimination rights and protection
5. Increasing support and advice at work
The TUC and our member unions are determined to play a leading role in tackling racism and xenophobia. As well as making recommendations in this paper, we joined the EHRC, ACAS, the CBI and other employers’ organisations immediately after the referendum to provide practical advice and guidance for employers1. We have also produced a guide for union reps2 to support them to tackle racist abuse and harassment in the workplace. This will go hand in hand with practical action to combat racism and division, including by working through our regions and the Wales TUC to reach communities around the country.
The Tories have launched another ideological attack against the unions, and this time they aim to reduce the amount of funding that unions can give to the Labour Party, try to stop democratic strikes by introducing very high vote percentages before they are legal, and forcing people to say, two weeks in advance, if they are going use social media to advertise the action.
Of course, there will be no limit on funds that bankers and fund managers give to the Tories, nor will they insist that politicians get similar levels of votes before they can be elected. Rank hypocrisy.
More information from the Trade Union Group
Trade Union Bill: Leading the fightback
The Trade Union Bill may only be just over 30 pages long but reads like a catalogue of limitations to trade union freedoms and civil liberties, amounting to the greatest attack on working people in 30 years.
Instead of fighting to better the lives of the very people who have been hit hardest by their own policies, the Tories have chosen to undermine their rights at work.
Instead of amplifying the voices of working people in the workplace and political arena, they have chosen to try to silence them.
And instead of taking pity on workers who have been forced to take strike action as a final resort in a last ditch attempt to get the conditions at work that they deserve, the Tories have chosen to demonise them.
Make no mistake about it, this proves more than ever that the Tories have their sights set firmly on Britain’s 6 million trade unionists and it’s up to us to take a stand.