STUC Congress, 17th April - 19th April 2023
Caird Hall Dundee, Delegates Report
Congress convened on Monday 17th April at 10:30. Delegates Katrina Faccenda, Allan O’Hare and Martin Hartley were in attendance.
The theme for this years 126th congress was “Scotland’s Workers Demand Better”.
The first day’s business was around Trade Union and employment rights. We had motions from various unions around issues like shorter working week, better bereavement leave rights, a number of composite motions around defending trade union freedom, employers duty of care during the cost of living crisis, and fair work and the economy. All motions were carried.
Humza Yousef spoke on the first day after lunch and the STUC awards ceremony. The First Minister explained his affinity and admiration for trade unions, talking about his background and growing up on the receiving end of racism. He explained that on every march his anti-racism group were on, the trade unions were there to support. The First Minister offered if invited would support and march on the anti-racism march on St. Andrew’s day. He went on to say that during the last pay negotiations with the NHS that the government didn’t always see eye to eye, but believed that discussions were open and constructive. The First Minister explained that he would support Scottish workers right to strike. The Scottish government will oppose Westminster’s abysmal anti trade union laws, and the Scottish Government will never an issue a work order to striking workers.
Owen Reidy, General Secretary of the ICTU addressed congress, and Paul Novak General Secretary of the TUC.
Second day’s business included fair taxes to fund public services, the energy crisis which resulted in a card vote due to nuclear energy being described as a safe clean alternative in the original motion. Other motions included cost of living crisis and retail recovery in Scotland.
Economy, Industry and Transport was debated later in the morning, and Martin Hartley EC Member spoke (speech attached) in support of composite F moved by the RMT, seconded by ASLEF which asked the STUC to lobby the Scottish Government to keep railways in Scotland in public ownership.
Sadly the rest of the transport section was moved to the third day due to time constraints.
Angela Raynor spoke about the support that the Labour Party has the for the trade union movement and within 100 days of the minimum service levels bill coming into force, the Party will ask government to repeal it. Angela reminded congress that the only way to rid the Tories of power was to vote Labour, voting SNP will not remove the tories.
Delegates attended fringe meetings, What is WOKE and how it applies in the trade union movement. IER Defending the right to strike and fighting the minimum service levels bill.
Roz Foyer General Secretary moved the General Council’s report. The General Secretary reflected on the action taken in Scotland by trade unions fighting pay claims an terms and conditions and the STUC stood shoulder to shoulder. We need to keep the movement going with wider collective bargaining for every single worker and Labour movement.
Delegate Allan O’Hare moved motion 86 Period Products free provision Scotland Act 2021 (speech attached). The motion was supported by members from the UCU. The motion passed easily. We asked Congress to work with the Scottish Government to ensure all public transport hubs, Scotrail train stations, Calmac ferry terminals and other travel hubs join the Act under section 3. Also to work with health and safety reps to encourage all employers to facilitate the spirit of the act and assist their employees with easy access and preferably free provisions when they can.
On day three we heard motions on Equality and Social Justice, International and Trade Union organisation.
Anas Sanwar addressed congress. Speaking in support of the trade unions and reminding congress of how the Labour Party was formed from the TU movement and will support the trade unions now supporting workers rights. The Labour Party will strengthen workers rights, and reverse the draconian Tory minimum service levels bill, and also scrapping the zero hours and fire and rehire employment tactics by employers. Anas spoke on investing more in renewables, and reducing carbon emissions, and future proofing green energy.”It’s time to get rid of the tories circus, and it’s not enough just to oppose Tory policies, but we need to get rid of them all together”. “The only party to get rid of theTories is the Labour Party, the SNP will talk left but often act right, and will sell Scotland’s resources off to private companies outside Scotland”.
During the afternoon session we returned to business deferred from the previous day due to time constraints.
Delegate Allan O’Hare seconded a motion by Community Union for body worn cameras for Prison escort contractors. Martin Hartley EC member, seconded motion 21 Cross border rail services moved by ASLEF into the failings of Transpennine Express and Avanti West Coast running trains down the west coast mainline.
We heard Emergency motions including sending a condolences message to our partner unions within Greece, and to aid them however we can. Another emergency motion was to instruct the STUC General COuncil to work with political parties to support Amnesty INternational's campaign the Right To Protest. Congress also heard a motion that condemned the Leader of the UK Labour Party Keir Stammer for what was widely interpreted as a boast in The Times Newspaper that he had effectively sacked our friend and comrade the then Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard MSP. Congress offered solidartory to Richard and all trade unionists and socialist Labour members under attack by the current Labour leadership. The motion was lost.