Report from STUC Conference

The STUC presents a good opportunity for activists to build links with other like-minded trade unionists about joint campaigning on issues like Pay and Pensions covered by the National Campaign. This years STUC took place 25 – 27 April at Aberdeen’s Music Hall with a delegation well represented with Left Unity members.

Monday 25th April

Public Sector Pay

The first big debates covered Public Sector Pay, where President Fran Heathcote made a powerhouse supporting speech drawing attention to the NEC’s recent decision to have a statutory ballot on the National Campaign and calling for trade union unity over Pay Campaigning.

Fran said “With the biggest cost of living crisis in living memory on our hands, any piecemeal restoration will be obliterated overnight. Trade union members deserve better, they are being failed by UK and Scottish Governments alike. Let’s stand together, let’s get behind these demands and fight together for the increase our members need and deserve.”

There then followed a Trade Union Co-ordinating Group Fringe meeting on the first day, which was well attended as delegates flocked to discuss building a coordinated response – you can find Fran’s speech below

Tuesday 26th April

Future Working

It is extremely important that PCS get out in front of Hybrid and Home-working and set our agenda for future work before Westminster design a future for us where a computer terminal is strapped to us like a ball and chain with 24/7 working.

PCS submitted an important motion on Future work opening up possibilities for a shorter working week and more family friendly flexible working underpinned by the right to disconnect.

In her Speech, NEC member, Liz McGachey pointed out “A shorter working week, without loss of pay, has gone from being an outsider, utopian notion to a very real and serious possibility in parts of the civil service and public sector. There are huge, quantifiable benefits to this proposal; greater productivity, less sickness, greater satisfaction at work and a net positive benefit on environmental impacts.” 

Wednesday 27th April

Emergency Motion on DWP Office Closures

The delegation thought it was important to submit a motion about the fast-emerging situation regarding DWP office closures, and although the DWP members of the delagation had left by the time Emergency Motions were debated (ironically, to attend a GEC to update on the issue), John Jamieson moved the motion on behalf of PCS.

John said PCS is demanding DWP reverse reverse its decision on closures or finds suitable accommodation in the community to relocate staff. PCS is determined the DWP should not be allowed to create unemployment by throwing its own staff on the scrap heap. PCS believe Scottish Government can help by reflecting their own policy on access to devolved benefits locally by facilitating accommodation in its own, or the local authority estates, where DWP workers can be located and continue servicing local communities.”

The full text of the motion is attached here – link to attachment

Other PCS delegates made important interventions on ey issues, including Steve West on the Minimum Income Guarantee, who said “ Whilst we welcome radical policy solutions to address the grotesque levels of poverty and inequality, much more work needs to be done on the Minimum Income Guarantee and its potential effects…for trade unions to sleepwalk into this position would be completely unacceptable to our members.”

Malcolm Clark spoke about the Scottish Fair Work approach to outsourced workers, he said “They must be properly supported now that we are outside the EU, and steps taken to bring them in-house where there is the opportunity to do so.”.

All of the PCS delegation made valuable contributions to the key debates taking place and a number of important discussions took place about the importance of joined-up and coordinated campaigning. It was great to be all together with friends and comrades face to face, whilst strict social distancing rules were observed and as always, our delegation had input into a number of issues, with our own Liz McGachey being re-elected to the STUC Women’s Committee.