SECOND DAY: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH
(Congress reassembled at 9.30 a.m.)
The President: Good morning, delegates. I call you to order. Let me start by apologising for a slight delay to the opening this morning, which was mainly due to the fact that we do not have a great amount of time to discuss our business in the General Council and a rather contentious issue required a fair amount of debate this morning.
Could I begin also by thanking the Jazz Pirates, who unfortunately have now disappeared, for providing the entertainment that once again the NUT is sponsoring. Thank you very much.
May I remind delegation leaders that the ballots for the General Council and the General Purposes Committee take place this morning. There are still a lot of people standing in the aisles talking. I should be grateful if you would sit down or hold your conversations elsewhere. Ballot papers should be collected from the desk outside the TUC stand situated in the ground floor exhibition area, just inside the main front doors of the Brighton Centre. Ballot papers will only be provided in exchange for the official delegate form. Please note that the ballot closes at 12 noon today.
Delegates, I now ask Gerry Veart, Chair of the General Purposes Committee, to give a report.
Gerry Veart (General Purposes Committee): Good morning, Congress. This mornings GPC report includes two new items. An emergency motion was submitted yesterday to the GPC by NATFHE on compulsory testing and citizenship. The GPC agreed that it was in order as an emergency and copies will be distributed in due course. The President will indicate in due course when the emergency motion will be taken on the agenda.
The GPC also agree to a request from the Transport & General Workers Union to organise a collection for the Friction Dynamics workers. They will be rattling their collection buckets as you leave the hall for lunch today. That concludes my report. Thank you.
The President: Can I take it that that report is agreed? (Agreed) Thank you very much. Congress, we start this mornings business by introducing the sororal delegate from the Labour Party. This year it is Diana Holland, well known to many in the Movement for her dedicated work in promoting equal rights. As on a number of previous occasions, this is less of an address by a visiting speaker but more an address by one of our own in a different guise. Diana, as most of you will know, is the T&Gs National Organiser for Women, Race & Equalities. She is a member of the TUC Womens Committee and a member of the T&G delegation to Congress. Diana is also one of the trade union members of the Labour Partys National Executive Committee, and this year she is the Chair. Diana, you are warmly welcomed and I am delighted to be able to ask you to address Congress as a representative of the Labour Party.
Diana Holland: Thank you very much, President. Congress, it is a privilege to address this Congress as the sororal delegate from the Labour Party. It was a special honour to be elected this years Chair by the Labour Party NEC during last years Congress, the first woman from my union to hold this office and the first T&G representative since Alex Kitson in the 1970s, a special honour for me and for women in my union. On behalf of the Labour Party membership I would like to pay tribute to John Monks for all his years of service and to congratulate Brendan Barber on becoming the new General Secretary of the TUC. At this moment in time, it is more important than ever that the Labour Party and the trade union Movement find ways to work together. I would also like to welcome Frances OGrady and Kay Carberry to their posts. Brendan, I have to warn you that at this years TUC Womens Conference they were presented with two hammers in order to smash a few more glass ceilings but I know that all your commitment to working men and women, and to the trade union Movement, is what we need to build hope for future generations.
Congress, we meet at a time which is demanding and difficult for all of us, with desperate problems to tackle and great opportunities for tackling those problems, but also great dangers facing the whole world, issues in the wider world, like injustice and poverty in Africa, the continuing critical situation in Iraq, and the serious threat to the wider peace process in the Middle East. These are not remote issues in far-flung parts of the globe; they have a vital impact on all of us in Britain. Here at home we have the slowdown in the world economy affecting jobs, not least in manufacturing, the impact of the firefighters dispute, the pensions crisis, and the injustice and hardship of the two-tier workforce with women part-time workers so often facing the worst conditions, something which after long negotiations with the trade unions the Government has committed itself to deal with, an important, positive, first step. Let no one ever forget that it was to overcome problems like these that over one hundred years ago trade union and socialist pioneers came together to form the Labour Party and to take forward the cause of social justice.
This year we have achieved the longest ever serving Labour Government in the whole of our history, 1997 to 2003, just six years. Let us not forget what the Tories did in their first six years, from 1979 to 1985, with over 3 million unemployed, wave after wave of anti-union legislation, cutting back on unfair dismissal and maternity rights, banning unions at GCHQ, and ending the earnings link to pensions, something many unions here would like to see restored and what better 90th birthday present to Jack Jones could there be. On measures to tackle inequality, asylum seekers, the repeal of section 28, the Tories have proved as extremist right-wing as ever. Teresa May, supposed to be their acceptable face, remember her at their last conference, the first woman chairman of the Conservative Party. The rumour at the time was, 'nice shoes, nasty party'. It was a Tory MP, Francis Maude, who dug the knife in deep when he asked: 'How many Conservatives does it take to change a light bulb? None. The Conservatives never change a damn thing.' The trouble is that when they do change things it is for the worse.
Whatever we want the Labour Party to do, however satisfied or dissatisfied we are with the Governments performance, the party can only be truly effective if it gets elected. Key elections are coming up next year, locally in Europe and in London. Let me take this opportunity on behalf of the Labour Party to thank everyone in the trade union Movement for all that you are doing in Scotland, Wales, London, English regions, Europe, and in local parties at local level where it really counts. We must ensure that the elections are fought between a positive agenda with Labour of investment and better public services versus needless constitutional wrangling under the Nationalists, unprincipled opportunism from the Liberal Democrats and massive cuts in public services under the Tories. From my experience of racist parties like the BNP, you do not defeat them by retreating in front of them. We need a one hundred per cent united challenge against their message of hate and fear.
Congress, Iain Duncan Smith has publicly committed the Tories to 20 per cent cuts across the board, deep cuts in vital public services threatening 1 in 5 jobs. They must be challenged hard on this. In reality so-called compassionate conservatism is no different to the failed Tory policies of the past, with cuts, charges and privatisation. Howard Flight, the Shadow Chief Secretary, said last year: 'The whole mentality in the public sector is to do as little as you can.' How dare he. Our public services are there for us and our families from the cradle to the grave and I can pay no greater tribute to our public servants than the American writer, Michael Moore, speaking about those who work in education. He said: 'Thank you so much for devoting your life to my child. Is there anything I can do to help you? Is there anything you need? I am here for you. Why, because you are helping my child, my baby, to learn and grow. I am entrusting the most valuable person in my life to you. Thank you.'
On behalf of a wide range of elected members of the NEC, representing all sections of the Party, I would call for none of us to forget that we have made our greatest achievements when all sections and parts of the party are working together, industrial and political. That does not mean we should all agree on every issue from the start. It does mean we should try and reach agreement. For unions it means we must play our full part in the Labour Party at every level, including local constituencies. For governments it means listening properly to trade unions who are the voice of the working men and women of this country.
We have lived through the General Strike and its aftermath, the Great Depression, two World Wars, various renegades and breakaways, including the SDP in the 1980s and the years of Tory misrule. It has been said that Labour was the party that civilised the 20th century. We must continue to be that party in the 21st century. Our heart must be where it has always been, for equality, justice, peace and internationalism. I am sure we can make good progress and I wish you all a good Congress. Thank you. (Applause)
The President: Thank you, Diana. I have great pleasure in presenting you with a Gold Badge of Congress. (The presentation was made) (Applause)
Thank you, colleagues, we now continue with Chapter 3 of the General Councils Report on Economic and Industrial Affairs, page 43, on Arts and Media.
John Smith (Musicians Union) moved Motion 62.
(Insert Motion 62 - Moral Rights for Performers)
He said: This motion is not trying to address the morals of MU members, or indeed Equity members; in some cases that is something we should leave alone. We are addressing an obtuse part of copyright which confers actually non economic rights on creators. In a common law tradition such as ours, intellectual property is regarded as a commodity. It can be sold, rented, in the same way as a house, or a car, or any other kind of property. Contrast French copyright that law sees an intellectual creation as being an aspect of the creators natural rights, part of his or her soul, if you like, their being. That is the big difference between the two. The introduction of moral rights for authors was an attempt to bring these two traditions together.
As the motion explains, there are two moral rights, the right to be identified with a creation, or in our case a performance, and the right of integrity which means that your creation should not be subject to any sort of detrimental treatment in a way that was not originally intended, that is, not without the permission of the creator. The extension of these rights to performers will be a qualitative step in the recognition that performance is actually a creative act. We are particularly keen to get the provision that identifies performers with their performances added to our copyright law. You will notice when you look at the end credits of TV programmes and films that the names of musicians are seldom added. In fact, the long credits that followed the first Lord of the Rings film, the Fellowship of the Ring, mentioned almost everybody but did not say that Howard Shaws incredible score was recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, there is a problem with recognition of who are the session players on lots of rock and pop tracks. We believe the public want to know who these actually very talented individuals are. Record companies and audio visual producers will no doubt see the introduction of these rights as another impediment to their business and they are actively lobbying against the rights or having them introduced at the minimal level, at this very moment.
The UK Government signed up to this international treaty in 1996 that will introduce these rights for the performers, and we are still waiting. We have really heard nothing. We are very pleased to accept the Writers Guild amendment to this motion. Even though authors already have moral rights they have to be asserted by the author or the composer and they are often subject to contractual waiver clauses, but economic factors are overbearing on the part of the author and moral rights are left by the wayside.
We support the motion. Lend the weight of the TUC to our campaign to have these rights introduced for performers and improved for authors. Thank you, Chair.
Brian McAvera (TheWriters Guild of Great Britain) in seconding the motion, said: Copyright is crucial in all its forms to the livelihood of not just writers but every form of cultural commentator. Before 1988, moral rights did not even exist in British law. The British Government then in its wisdom introduced them but, as you have heard, with a very clever waiver which basically means that every time I publish a book, or every time I have a television play or whatever, I have to insert a clause which actually states that I want my moral rights. The obvious question is to why one should have to do this.
You have heard a little bit about the difference between our law and elsewhere. The basic difference is simple. In European law intellectual property is sacrosanct under the law but in British and American law it is simply property to be bought and sold like a can of beans. A huge range of problems actually emerged from this convenient little lacked linkage. I will give you an example. Two weeks ago two letters came into to my particular household, one was for myself and one was for my wife, who is a visual artist. It was from an extremely well-known organisation in London. We have both worked for them. I had done a book for this organisation and my wife had done a website, a visual artists website. What this organisation said was simple. It said: 'We are going to have an enormous website. It is going to be shown all over the world. We are going to put 50 of our key projects on it. We want both of you in it.' Then we read the contract. The contract basically said, 'We want your moral rights in perpetuity.' In other words, we would get nothing, not a halfpenny, but this institution, and it is an educational institution officially, would be able to use our work and get the revenue from it and all because the British Government forces people like ourselves to assert the rights.
You may say: 'Why would anyone in their right mind sign such a contract?' The answer again is very simple. If you want publicity, if you want recognition, if you want other people to know you are out there, you are put in the invidious position that unless you already have the clout, if you are a small person, a small artist just starting out, then you can be ridden roughshod over. Ask yourselves a very simple question. Why does the British Government put cultural people in a situation like this? This does not apply just to educational institutions, it is now common practice for the BBC and every other major institution to try and force writers, directors, and the like, to give up their moral rights.
Let me give you an analogy. Just imagine that you had written a ten-page letter to your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your wife, your husband, full of intimate detail, and it falls into someone elses hands and somebody decides they are going to publish it. They come to you and say: 'Here we are. We are doing this. You did not sign your moral rights. Tough.' How would you feel? Let me be blunt. This is a government who under droit de seigneur, if you remember that, artists resale rights, ensured that whereas the rest of Europe allowed writers and artists to make money, in exactly the same way the British Government lackballed that so they have done the same here. I ask you to be like Jaws and put a little nip in against the Government, and pass this motion.
The President: There has been no other debate and I assume there is no wish to exercise the right of reply?
(The right of reply was waived)
* Motion 62 was CARRIED.
Corinna Marlowe (Equity) moved Motion 67.
(Insert Motion 67, Theatre Funding)
She said: President and Congress, the performing arts are of major importance in all our lives. More people go to the theatre than to football matches. We might not feel like seeing Hamlet after a hard days work but we might want to see a film, a show, or catch an episode of Coronation Street on the television. Those performers we enjoy watching, film stars, actors, singers, dancers, comedians, have all learned their craft in front of live audiences in the theatre. If we want our children to have the same quality of entertainment on stage and screen that we have, we must not let subsidised theatre die but government grants to the arts are the first to be cut in a harsh economic climate. We are not just selfishly talking about money for Equity members. A healthy theatre brings benefits for education, the economy, and tourism. The British Tourist Board confirms that culture, our theatre, is a major draw for foreign tourists and tourism is the largest income-producing industry in the country.
A few Christmases ago at the Swan Theatre, Worcester, in spite of my appearance in the Wizard of Oz, I played the good witch, we had packed houses. It was a great show. Last year a new city council cut the theatres grant so that it had to close. Many jobs were lost and Worcester no longer has a professional producing theatre. The surprising result of this decision to let the Swan, as we say, go dark was a major downturn in the local economy, an estimated loss of £2 million a year. Theatres do not only employ stage workers, administrators, and cleaners, they also use local suppliers and businesses, and the teenagers lost their theatre training and have to travel miles to see professional theatre; a local tragedy. Last year, the Leicestershire County Council withdrew their funding from the Leicester Haymarket Theatre, a regional theatre doing groundbreaking work with the local Asian community. It is now closed.
Additional money has given a great start for many exciting new schemes. We want to make sure that all these infant projects survive to adulthood. They need money to grow and develop. For example, there is a unique pioneering theatre company that employs people with physical and sensory impairments called Grey Eye. It has an international reputation and recently received a welcome uplift from the Arts Council. Then a cut in funds from the Association of London Government made it harder for it to find money for things it needs, like scripts in Braille, in sign language, not to mention easier access to buildings.
It may sound as though capital grants for new buildings and refurbishments are what we are after but a glossy new building is no good without money to pay people to work in it. Theatres, which get one-off grants for buildings, need money to run them. The window-cleaning bill for the new hi-tech Birmingham Repertory Theatre is astronomical. The wonderfully refurbished Theatre Royal at Stratford East with its remarkable links with the local multiracial community still has problems because current grants do not keep up with running costs. What we want is a substantial increase in core funding, not just one-off grants for special projects.
Our final main point is that under-funded Scottish theatres are in deep trouble. They are struggling to pay even minimum wages. Their serious long-term problems make them poor relations in Britain. Salary levels, staffing, training, and programming suffer. Producing seasons are being shortened and frustrated talents leave the country. We must keep Scottish theatre alive, if only to train actors for the next lot of nasty characters that Robbie Coltrane and Robert Carlisle play in the James Bond films.
In conclusion, it is all very well for Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone to wheel in high profile stars to back them in campaigns and show off how keen they are on culture. These stars obtained their skills in subsidised theatre. Without theatre subsidy where are the stars of the future? To sum up, theatre touches a huge sector of the community and affects all our lives. Subsidised theatre is the motor that keeps it going. The people who hold the purse strings in Britain, and especially Scotland, should give that motor the fuel it needs to survive and flourish. Congress, please support Motion 67. Thank you.
Brian McAvera (The Writers Guild of Great Britain) seconded the motion, and said: Is theatre important? More people go to theatre than go to football matches. Is theatre important? Theatre is part of a cultural industry that is actually the second biggest grosser in the UK. Is theatre important? I will tell you an anecdote. In 1972, in Belfast, the Falls Road, coming out of a small theatre there one of the actors had a cape across his shoulder, flamboyant. We crossed the road to get a bus. The next moment there was two paras in front of us blacked up: 'Who are you?' My friend with the cape, perhaps taking the piss somewhat, said: 'I am a thespian, sir.' I do not actually think he saw the punch because the next moment he was lying on the pavement. Times, one would hope, have changed though sometimes I am not so sure.
I think we need to remind ourselves that this particular island only 30 years ago had a flourishing rep system with plays once a week, and that before the time of John Osborne, a working-class lad, we were accustomed to predominantly middle-class players; then suddenly the working class had a voice. Actors, remember Roger Moore and people like him, had to adopt the state-of-the-art BBC plum English accent but not any more. Theatre changes the way you see things, it changes your life, it changes your attitude, but a bit like the railways, if you do not invest in it the whole thing grinds to a halt.
Theatre is about being relevant. You might say exactly how in this particular institution does theatre touch lives? I will give you one example. I worked with the TGWU in Belfast on a play about busmen and when I was initially asked I said: 'But how in Gods name do I make a play about busmen interesting?' Then I realised just how stupid I was being because everyone has a story to tell and the busmen in Northern Ireland -- just think of 1969 and afterwards -- have a major story to tell.
Writers allow you to see yourselves from a different perspective. We have writers working in theatre, in prisons, schools, and on the streets; they are throughout our society and we need to value them. The point about this particular story was that I bankrolled it because I had a grand total of £5,000 for nine months work. We need to pay people properly. We need to invest. Thank you.
The President: Again no further debate; I assume I can go straight to the vote.
(The right of reply was waived)
· Motion 67 was CARRIED.
The President: We now have a special feature debate on Building a Successful Economy. Our three participants are Brendan Barber, the Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt, MP, Secretary of State for Trade & Industry, and Digby Jones, CBI Director General. The well-known broadcaster, Sheena MacDonald, will facilitate the debate. The format of the debate will be a stand-up fight - sorry. (Laughter) Let me start again. I took my eyes off the script for a bit too long. I suppose that is an interesting illustration of the association of ideas. When you say 'stand-up' you automatically think of 'fight', do you not? Let me start again. The format of the debate will be a stand-up panel (Laughter) question and answer session. Sheena will be roving between our three speakers probing their arguments (Laughter) ----
The Vice-President: Are you sure you want to continue with this? (Laughter/ Applause)
The President: I am sorry. (Laughter) It is just not getting off to the right start, is it? (Laughter) Let us try and be serious. (Laughter) I will have to get a new scriptwriter for tomorrow. (Laughter) Anyway, ensuring they do not dodge -- (Laughter) I had better finish this. I have never had that happen to me before. Anyway, ensuring they do not dodge the tricky questions. (Laughter) We know that Patricia Hewitt will ably put across -- (Laughter) -- the Governments viewpoint. Digby Jones can be relied upon --(Laughter) in his normal robust manner to convey the views of the CBI, and of course we can depend upon Brendan to put across our message that partnership is essential to productivity. Over to you, Sheena. (Laughter/Applause)
Sheena MacDonald: President, thank you very much. (Laughter)
The President: It is a pleasure. (Laughter)
Sheena MacDonald: We are not quite sure how we are going to follow that, whether to do a proper stand-up routine with plenty more laughs?
Manufacturing matters to millions of British citizens, employees and employers, and hardly a day, in fact not a day, passes when we do not read something good or bad about the state of British manufacturing so we are going to hear three vital voices who are going to tell us from their individual perspectives how manufacturing would survive and thrive in Britain. Each will speak for a few minutes, only a few minutes because we do not have very much time, and then they will respond to each others thoughts. That is all I have to say at this point. Let us start with Brendan.
Brendan Barber: Sheena, thanks very much. I join Nigel in his eloquent welcome to Patricia, and particularly to Digby. I think, Digby, this is what is known as playing an away fixture. I certainly welcome their contributions to our debate because we want the Government and employers to engage with us in addressing the huge economic challenges that we face. I think we know the issues with manufacturing taking a battering with something like 10,000 jobs a month disappearing. An important survey from Amicus published only in the last couple of days shows the disastrous consequences for some of their members. We now have very poor productivity performance and lag way behind the United States and, indeed, many of the major European economies, and we know that we have insufficient investment in our skills.
There is a lot of common ground between us, I would say. In the first slide you can see some of the areas where I think our analysis would match and be supported by the Government and the CBI. One particular area that is referred to there is the issue of public procurement and only last week Patricia convened a meeting of leading union representatives with employers to talk with Government about how we can ensure that British industry benefits more from the flow of public spending that is now coming through.
It has to be said, of course, that there are other issues that are perhaps less comfortable to address. There is real anger in our ranks about double standards, huge rewards for those at the top of major companies, which does nothing to build the spirit we need in Britains workplaces. There is real disappointment, too, that too many employers seem to have to be dragged kicking and screaming to put in place decent consultation arrangements or to put in place a union recognition arrangement. There is real frustration, too, that what we would regard as sensible minimum standards get labelled as red tape or burdens on business.
A lot of this debate revolves around the word 'flexibility'. Let me just say what I think we want to see and what we mean when we think about flexibility. Let me, in a sense, try and tempt Patricia and Digby to sign up to our vision. Yes, modern firms must be flexible. They must be able to respond rapidly to the market and what their customers want. The way to do this is by having a highly skilled workforce, confident that their jobs are secure, and that new skills will be used to build the business, not to provide an excuse to slim the workforce simply to boost the share price.
We want to see the kind of flexibility that comes from using the full talents of the workforce, which means giving them a say on how best to tackle new tasks, not just through good individual relationships but through a proper collective voice. We want to see the kind of flexibility that comes from world-class managers, highly adaptable, multi-skilled, and with the training they need. Of course, British managers are among the least qualified in the modern advanced industrial economies. We want to see the kind of flexibility that comes from early adoption of new technology, new manufacturing processes, and new investment.
These are the kinds of flexibilities that would really begin to take our economy forward rather than looking to keep Britain as the easiest place to sack members of the workforce. Thank you, Sheena.
Sheena MacDonald: Thank you very much. Now let us hear from the Director General of the CBI, Digby Jones. Brendan suggested he is playing an away fixture. I would like you to be gentle with him because this is his first public engagement since being in hospital only a week ago. He has actually come back to work a little bit too early but he said wild horses would not have kept him away from this. Digby.
Digby Jones: Thank you very much. I feel very privileged to be invited and I thank you all for giving me this chance to share a session with you. Could I just make one point clear before we start. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. In fact, if Austin at Longbridge had closed when I was a kid, I just do not know what we would have done. I never condone businesses that do not treat their employees fairly, that flout the rules, which pay money that is not deserved to their directors, that reward failure, or that actually set an appalling example when it comes to sorting out pension schemes.
I have personally believed all my life in what I call social inclusive wealth creation. I think companies have every right in the world to ask a government to create an environment in which they can get on and create jobs and create profit; without profit we do not pay tax, and if we do not pay tax we do not get better schools and hospitals, but at the same time we have to take the whole of society with us. We have to be good employers. We have to train well. We have to be sensitive to the environments that we affect and we have to work with our communities. That is something I have believed all my life and so I thank you for giving me a chance for just a couple of minutes to put a case. I also look forward to hearing other cases as well.
Business leaders do not always get it right, although probably more get it right than they are given credit for, and we know business must be mindful of the need to set a good example when it comes to, for example, salaries and pensions. The UK would not have one of the most successful economies in the world if it were not for the talent and the sheer hard work of both your members and my members. The reputation of the UK as the investment location of choice is due to several factors. The macro economic stability of low inflation, low interest rates, low unemployment, and some sustainable growth (which is the best in Europe) is one of those factors and one for which the Government should take full credit.
Our success as a nation is also partly due to modern, moderate, trade unionism. My members just do not want that to change, and they are not alone. The nation just cannot afford for it to change. Our disagreements, yours and mine, are always well documented by these people but we do have some common cause in many areas.
But we do have some common cause in many areas. Do you know that 3.5 million people are going to be at work today picking up a wage who cannot read and write, and there are another 3.5 million adults at home today who are functionally illiterate? That is shameful. We together ought, really, to renew with vigour an agenda to make sure that never happens again in the workplace. Just think what it does to our productivity, but think also what it does to social inclusion and to the fact that another generation of kids are growing up who actually do not have a mum and dad who can read and write or know what books mean. It is something that we can do together.
In the area of Government procurement, we are totally, I hope, on the same side. Using the United Kingdom taxpayers money to create jobs in France and America just cannot be right.
Competition is an excellent self-improver, and the UK taxpayer deserves that competition, but sustained investment in training, kit, research and development will only follow when we have the same secure stable order books that our competitor nations enjoy, often unfairly.
Companies are not whingeing when they make clear the temptations to move overseas. I meet decision-makers in companies every day, and the threat to UK competitiveness, and therefore jobs, is very real, and I am worried. The UK has to retain its pre-eminence as the place to do business in Europe and around the world, but we simply cannot rely on the methods, either of us, of yesterday. Todays challenges are difficult for employees, trade unions and business with its new working methods, re-training, up-skilling, different shift patterns, flexible working and accommodating the needs of people -- after all, business is people, people and businesses are the same - as they make those new lifestyle family choices in this vastly different world of work that the 21st Century has brought to us. All of those changes are necessary, and they can be achieved successfully in a spirit of co-operation and with a positive can-do attitude.
Businesses have to do a damned sight more to be better communicators, to inform, to consult, but just saying 'no' and 'wont' in response lets down the very people who are affected most and worried most by change. The spirit of adaptability, which has characterised the trade union contribution to, for example, our vibrant and globally successful UK car industry, shows just what can be done and what could be done in the delivery of our public services, especially now that the much needed and long overdue additional cash has been provided. Patients, parents, pupils and passengers have to come first, ladies and gentlemen. We have to take the dedication of the people who work in them and the money which has been made available, but on their own that will not work. We have also got to change, and the Governments agenda for reform is here to say and to make the most of that very dedication and that extra cash which has been put there.
You, your members, working with Government, yes, but also, I hope, in the same room as business and the often ignored but so important voluntary sector, have a once in a lifetime opportunity - we all do - to secure and sustain the improvements that we all want to see. Let us make our legacy one of which our children would be rightly proud and pleased. Do not let us throw it all away. Thank you for listening.
Sheena MacDonald: Thank you very much, Digby. I am sure that Brendan has a couple of questions that he would like to ask you, but, first of all, let us hear from the
Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade & Industry. Brendan referred to an initiative which unites these people on the panel, and Patricia Hewitt is going to tell us how the Governments industrial strategy is developing.
Patricia Hewitt: Sheena, thank you very much, indeed. Friends, it is really good to be here. It is particularly nice to be in the real Congress, not the virtual Congress that we read about and see about in the media, which is rather a different matter.
Before I turn to productivity and manufacturing, I want to say that I think we are at a very significant moment in the relationship between a Labour Government and the trade union Movement. I am not thinking, actually, about the headlines and the rhetoric that have dominated the last few days. I am thinking about the fact that we are half-way through our second term. We are looking ahead to try and win a third term, and there has never been a Labour Government in that position before. I know very well that a lot of you here think that we have got far too close to big business and we have somehow cold-shouldered or elbowed out the unions. I do not happen to think that is the reality but I am very worried that that is such a widespread perception, and we have to change that. We have to make our relationship and our partnership work better.
Setting up the Public Services Forum is part of that. The work we are doing together on productivity and skills is part of that. Let us be very clear about what we mean by raising productivity because I do not want to see millions of people feeling that they have to work harder and harder and longer and longer just in order to stay still while other people make more money out of their efforts. That is not higher productivity. What I mean by 'higher productivity', is business and organisations that are producing better products, better services, better goods and they are doing it because there is more investment, higher skills and higher wages. That is what we need to deliver prosperity for everybody.
I agreed with just about everything that Brendan said and more than I sometimes do with what Digby had to say. So I just want to pick out three key points, the first of which is manufacturing. There are still people in our country who say, 'We dont need manufacturing. We can just live off services'. I think that is rubbish. Whether or not you work in manufacturing or you represent manufacturing workers, we all need successful high value-added manufacturing. Our manufacturing at its best is amongst the best in the world, but we have not got enough of it and it is very tough for manufacturing firms and workers out there. That is why the first thing I did as the new Secretary of State for Trade & Industry was to bring together our industrial unions and some of our top companies, and we put in place the first manufacturing strategy that we have had in our country for more than 30 years.
I completely agree with you on procurement. Brendan, you referred to the meeting we had last week. The next thing is going to be bringing together more of our manufacturing companies and their unions and getting them together with the people in government who are making those purchasing decisions. Geoff Hoon and I agreed last year the new Defence Industrial Policy. We have not had one of those for 20 years or more, and we delivered on that when we placed that Hawk order which safeguarded thousands of jobs. Roger Lyons campaigned for that at Brough at British Aerospace. Of course, we need more of that. We need much more on skills, and we have agreed the new Skills Strategy. We have got the TUC, the DTI, the Department of Education and the CBI all working together in the new Skills Alliance so that we get the modern apprenticeships, we get the sector skills councils working and we build on the outstanding work that is now being done by learning union representatives to deal, yes, with the basic skills problems, but also to open up those opportunities so that people can go from the shopfloor just as high as they want to, some of them, as Derek Simpson was telling the Prime Minister last week, right up to a Ph.D.
The second point is trade union involvement, involvement in Government policy making as well as involvement in the workplace. We all know that if John Major had won in 1997 we would not have gone any of the things that we have achieved and the ways in which we have changed the workplace and the labour market over the past six years. Of course, there is more to do and we can argue exactly what the priorities are, but let us not ever undersell to our members, my constituents, the huge changes that we have made since 1997 in working peoples conditions and the impact that they are having and will go on having.
I want, particularly, to thank both John Monks and you, Brendan, for the work that you did with us on the Information and Consultation Directive. We are not going to have people sacked by text message or hear about it on breakfast radio. I know, Digby, that the CBI would rather not have the IC Directive at all, but the fact is that decent companies do it already, and every successful business depends on the management and workforce working together in partnership. So the fact that we have got an agreed way forward for implementation of the Information and Consultation Directive is terrific.
The third point is that all three of us want to see more successful businesses. That is a real challenge to management. It is also a challenge to investors, because one of our most deep-seated problems is that we are still not investing enough in R&D and in modern technology. So our workers are having to work with out-of-date equiipment. Even now, with the lowest interest rates that we have had since the 1950s and the R&D tax credit, we are still not getting the investment we need. It does not help when the actions of a small number of business leaders gives business a bad name. I have said over and over again that I have no problem with big rewards for big success - I would like to see the big rewards shared with the workforce as well as the management - but there is no excuse for huge pay offs for failure, and we have seen too much of that in the last few years. That is why I changed the law to require companies to publish all the details of directors pay and to give the shareholders an annual vote on it, starting with this years company AGMs. The pension funds and the pension fund trustees are part of making sure that the people who own the majority of British companies through the pension funds actually have a say and make the decisions on that policy on directors pay. It is just a scandal that we have some directors feathering their pension nests at the same time as they are slashing the pension security of their own workforce. We are going to give working people the right to be consulted over changes in their pension schemes. We have put pensions into the new rules on the two-tier workforce concerning TUPE. We are stopping firms, solvent firms, from walking away from their pensions responsibilities and we are putting in place a compensation scheme so that we can protect peoples pension rights if the firm goes bust.
Of course, there are lots of big headlines and dramatic rhetoric by the media, who always magnify that. What I think we need and what I think we have got, because we have done it on so many issues already, is a real determination to work in a more effective partnership together, week in and week out so that we can deliver the best conditions for people at work and the best environment for business success. That is the partnership that I have tried to create at the Department of Trade & Industry and I look forward to more of it in the months and years ahead. Thank you.
Sheena MacDonald: Thank you. I will give you the right to respond to each others ideas in a moment, but we are touching on some slightly - it has been very emollient so far - less comfortable realities. For instance, Brendan has said and the Secretary of State has suggested that management really has to up its game, Digby. A recent ESRC study showed that a quarter of employees are under-used in Britain. It is pointless in having a highly skilled workforce if the management is not up to using them properly. What are you doing about that?
Digby Jones: Firstly, I think that has definitely to raise its game.
Sheena MacDonald: How?
Digby Jones: I think the top part of management actually holds its own globally, but I think that middle management in a lot of companies needs to get better, and that goes to the point about whether it is, actually, in either the public or private sector. I am certainly not in the game of saying that we want people to work harder. What I want them to do is to work more cleverly and earn more money through working more cleverly. That calls for two things: a better skilled workforce and better managers who are themselves going to submit to training and get on the game of improving their lot, not getting the money unless they do, but then they get better at getting more out of working more cleverly with people.
I am a great critic of the way that the French go about their business, but one thing they are first class at is inivotive management. They are very very good at getting a lot out of a better skilled workforce, far better than we are. However, we are good at other things. I think that there should be more training for middle managers, a willingness of management not to think they know it all and, at the same time, constantly in the psychi of everybody who goes to work, an understanding that for every day, for the rest of their lives, they must learn more and put their skills into that wealth creation process. If they do not, it will not be France and Germany who actually leave us for dead but it will be the Indias and the Chinas, and the jobs will never come back from there.
Sheena MacDonald: Is this happening or is it an aspiration?
Digby Jones: At the moment, it is more aspiration than happening, to be honest. I think it is happening more than people give credit for, but the one thing you need to make it happen is competition.
I can remember in the 70s in Brum that we had all Japanese imports of cars and everybody was saying to the Government at the time, 'Put up the barriers and stop these coming in'. The one thing, by letting free trade bring those cars in, was that every car manufacturer in Britain had to raise its game, and what actually happened, at the end of the day - we went through a lot of pain - is that we today have a car industry that is one of the best in the world. The Nissan car plant in Sunderland is the most productive car plant in the whole of Europe, and it is fully unionised. It is submitting to competition, acknowledging the problem and then getting this psychi of self-improvement constantly going.
All of this is a two-way street. I do not think that management are good enough at it, but I have to say that there are a lot of people who have seen that sort of change and think, 'Oh, no. I want to stay where I am. I understand this. I am comfortable'. Well, comfort is not on the agenda for anybody these days.
Sheena MacDonald: Brendan, is that the right kind of noise or is that all it is?
Brendan Barber: It is certainly the right kind of noise. I was interested that Digby acknowledged that in terms of functional flexibility in France - he was talking about France - that their performance is rather better than ours. This seems to me to be a key issue, because a lot of the debate about regulation and flexibility is about to what extent are we matching up to decent European standards, and to what extent are the kind of standards that are set elsewhere in Europe a drag or a burden on business? To what extent to they constrain flexibility? I say that the evidence shows that if you look at the performance of other major European economies, and in terms of those, which are the most critical kinds of flexibility, the scope to really adapt, innovate and make change quickly to respond to changing market pressures and circumstances, the more regulated economies in Europe actually perform rather better, because they build a different workplace culture. We are looking to see an acceptance of that rather than the arguments that Digby publicly finds himself making on behalf of his members, that anything to put in place decent minimum standards ought to be resisted as some kind of unreasonable constraint.
Digby Jones: But, Brendan, just a minute. France has also got the highest unemployment in Europe, so you cannot have it both ways. You are telling me that I am right when I say that France is innovative in the way it manages people and gets the most out of its workforce, but we are looking at the most regulated labour market and the highest unemployment. That is not a coincidence, is it?
Brendan Barber: I do not think there is the causal link that you suggest. If you look at other European economies that are regarded as highly regulated, their employment record is rather better than ours. You can look at the Scandinavian countries and Holland, for example. Decent minimum standards are not incompatible with efficient well-run organisations.
Digby Jones: I agree with that.
Brendan Barber: I think the arguments which are always raised were raised about the minimum wage, after all. We were told that the minimum wage would cost hundreds of thousands, even millions, of jobs, but in the end employment levels rose.
Sheena MacDonald: There are some young employees who would like an improved minimum wage for them.
Brendan Barber: Indeed; and we have debated that.
Sheena MacDonald: Then they might vote.
Patricia Hewitt: We have put in place on this National Minimum Wage, against this huge campaign which said it would destroy jobs, a partnership model. We organised the Low Pay Commission to work together with unions and employers to recommend to us what the level of the minimum wage should be. I think the whole issue of the youth wage is one of the most difficult ones, because what I and none of us want to see is what has happened, particularly in France, where they have a high level of minimum wage for young workers and a very high level of unemployment there. We have a real problem in Britain, with 21 year olds much less likely to be in work than those who are a bit older or even a bit younger. That is why we have been cautious. Maybe we have been over-cautious, but for good reason on the minimum wage.
I want to make a more general point here. I think this debate about regulation has gone into a kind of caricature. We have the CBI saying 'Regulation bad' and Brendan, not quite but with a bit of an element, saying, 'Any regulation good'. What we must recognise is that of course we have to use the law and regulation to set standards in the workplace, above all, to protect people, particularly people who are not in unions, against utterly unscrupulous and exploitative employers. We are going to do that. Then we can also use regulation and legislation to move standards up, to help to get more of those high performance workplaces that we all want. The Information and Consultational Directive is part of that, as are the anti-discrimination laws, the family/friendly working and so on.
When you look at how they do it on the Continent, we need to recognise - I think Brendan was making this point - that it is not one model. It is not all the same in the rest of Europe. It is very different between, say, France, where they do have superb skills, really at every level of the workforce right up to management, from, say, Germany, where they all know that they have a huge challenge of structural reform and they are in the process of starting to make a lot of changes to a model which has served them well for many decades but is not serving them well at the moment.
On any employment issue, we ought to recognise that one of the great achievements of our Government, and we have achieved it together, is that we have a million-and-a-half more people in work than we had six years ago. Actually, there are very few European countries who, like us, have already met our Lisbon targets for employment, including the employment of older workers. We have done well on that. What we now need to do, as we keep bringing more people into work, is to get more people into better work, which is about skills, wages and productivity.
Sheena MacDonald: Digby, I know you want to respond.
Digby Jones: I want to make one point on the minimum wage. My predecessors did oppose it. I have not opposed it. What I have said is - I want your help on this because I do not know the answer. I do not think anybody does, if they are honest - is that you have a supermarket chain and they are going to take 20 school leavers or 20 people from a disadvantaged ethnic community, which they do a lot, actually, and if they are going to say that because the minimum wage has gone to a higher level, they will not take 20 but they will take 19, you will never read about that in a newspaper and you will never really see it in all the statistics, but it has an impact on that community. It is one person somewhere and one person somewhere else. Secondly, if you set it at too high a level, it is not whether those businesses can afford that level but it is the impact on the differential of your members at £6 an hour, £7 an hour and £8 an hour, which is what the Treasury and the Bank of England get worried about. I do not know the answer to this, which is that if you are going to get a decent minimum standard so that everybody coming into the workplace has hope and undersstands what 'aspiration' means, how do you do it so you do not disturb macro-economic stability, which I will always support, to make sure that you do not get pay rises going through and causing that whole thing of inflation again, and at the same time how do you make sure that the employers keep taking the young of the country into work? We have to pitch it at a level where it does not damage those two things but gives a decent standard of living. What that level is, actually, I think if we were all honest, none of us really know. There is a bit of trial and error on this. At the moment it is succeeding, but I think the success of it is because of the level it has been pitched at is more than whether it should exist, because I agree that it should.
Sheena MacDonald: Do you want to respond to that, Brendan?
Brendan Barber: As Digby has acknowledged and Patricia has mentioned, the Low Pay Commission does have a difficult job to do. Inevitably, we would like to see the minimum wage pitched at a much higher level. If you look at the reality of trying to care for a family on minimum wage rates, the living standards of people in those circumstances are desperately, desperately poor. We strongly support the Low Pay Commission. We should have a mechanism of that sort to try to establish consensus on what the minimum wage should be set at and, so far, it has done its work. I think it has commanded respect and, obviously, we expect to see it continue. Let me say that we do expect to see it particularly addressing this issue of young workers as well, including 16 to 17 year olds.
Patricia Hewitt: During the next year or 18 months we are going to be following the Low Pay Commission recommendation. We are going to be pushing up the National Minimum Wage much faster than average earnings so that it goes from covering just over a million people, which is actually less than we all originally intended in the first place, to covering about two million workers. So that is going to be a really important extension of the minimum wage.
Your point about trying to bring up a family is absolutely crucial. In a constituency like mine, in Leicester, which is low paid, it is central to peoples lives. On top of the minimum wage, of course, we now have much more generous child benefits and childrens tax credits. Further, the Working Tax Credit is now extended to single people. So there is a lot there to deliver a decent standard of living for families and then keep it rising.
Sheena MacDonald: The Secretary of State earlier used two 'R' words - regulation and rhetoric. I will quote you, Digby. You used the word 'relentless' - 'relentless employment legislation'. Are you not dissuaded by the Secretary of States argument, which in effect suggests that employment legislation saves jobs and, ultimately, can save lives?
Digby Jones: In two areas I stand by what I have said. The first is that I believe there is a causal link between too much regulation in the workplace and unemployment.
Sheena MacDonald: What, too much legislation?
Digby Jones: What France and Germany have. People always compare us with Europe. There are 11 million people in Euro-land who are out of work. There are many reasons, but one of them is a rigid labour market. Secondly, information and consultation is a good example of this. I actually believe that good employers should inform and consult, and where they do not there should be something in place to ensure that we get the bad ones to do it. Let me say that 80% - 90% of my members are damned good employers who do it anyway. If what we are going to get, and I do not think we are going to get it because what we are trying to achieve I think is working, is a one size fits all, where someone comes along and says, 'I am sorry. Rule 16, sub-section 2, paragraph (b) says you will do it this way', then what you get is employers who sign out and you get different unions in different workplaces trying to score turf wars and it is not good for creating jobs in Britain. It is not going to happen with information/consultation because I think we have got it right.
What worries me with regulation is this one size fits all blanket approach, which allows for turf wars with employers and employees, and that is why it is the impact of it rather than the philosophy of it that I worry about.
Patricia Hewitt: I want to press Digby on this one.
Sheena MacDonald: All right, but briefly.
Patricia Hewitt: Let m press you on information and consultation, because we are not going to have one size fits all. We have a really good deal on how we implement it, but we know, legally, it does not come into effect for several years. Compass recently did a deal, I think with the T&G and the GMB, putting in place their arrangements in anticipation of the law. Would it not be quite sensible to encourage more companies who have not already got there to do that?
Digby Jones: I absolutely agree with you.
Patricia Hewitt: Good. It is one of the first things we are doing.
Digby Jones: One thing we are doing at the CBI is that I, personally, am getting around all 13 areas in the United Kingdom and saying, 'Come on, do it'. In fact, I am using it a bit of the 'Do it before they do it to you' scenario. Secondly, I am saying that it is best practice. If we do not want the one size fits all that I have talked about, then you are right, but it is the way in which we try to achieve it.
My general point was that it was not just employment regulation but it is health and safety, too.
Brendan Barber: There are lots of companies that have good practice, but when Digby says that 80% or 90% of his members really consult their workforces, I appreciate that the lighting is a bit dim in here, but I got a general impression that quite a few eyebrows were being raised in the hall.. (Applause)
Digby, if you look at the hard evidence and research, the Workplace/Employment Relations Survey, which is the most authoritative and comprehensive review, shows that it has been going totally in the other direction. The number of workplaces where there is real consultation has been sliding down; the number of issues on which employers actually consult their workforce has been thinning out and thinning out and there are fewer and fewer areas where unions and members of their workforces have been able to exert an influence. That is why we desperately need something to kick start a new culture in the form of the new information and consultation arrangements that we are now going to see brought in.
I am afraid that we are not going to see a change without that degree of compulsion, without that bottom line in law that an employer has got to match up to a minimum standard and we are not just relying on, in a sense, their goodwill or recognising their own self-interest.
Sheena MacDonald: Digby stated his fear earlier that jobs are going to leave the country. How do we stop that?
Brendan Barber: We stop that by having best practice in this country so that our workplaces are certainly as well run and as efficient as they can possibly be so that they can compete in the world markets. Inevitably, there will be jobs that will go to other parts of the world. We are an international trading nation. I hope that if there are to be changes of that sort, we are looking to see decent standards in other parts of the world, and we are looking to use whatever influence we can bring to bear to lever up standards so that is not the issue that forces change and the kind of outsourcing that we have seen in some industries that unions are very much concerned with.
Digby Jones: Let me say that manufacturing is 20% in the UK; 16% in the States; 21% in France; about 22% in Germany and about 19%-20% in Japan. This is a developed world issue. This is not a British issue. Manufacturing has a great future in Britain if we go to the value-added, knowledge based brand innovation quality end. If we carry on, which we are not, trying to sell commodities solely on price around the world, we will lose, but if we actually try and get manufacturing into the value added end, I think in this country it has a very rosy future.
Let me make one point of information, Chair. Sacking somebody by a text message on one of those (indicating a mobile phone) is an absolute disgrace. When I heard it on the radio - it is always referred to as 'sacking people by text message' - this was not a company, but a receiver. The facts of the matter are that the company went under and the receiver did it. Although the legislation will make sure that the receiver will be caught by it, please do not think that that was a company. It was a receiver, a firm of accountants, who did it. I will take the criticism, but just for once, factually, it was not a company in membership. It was actually a receiver who did it.
Patricia Hewitt: Let me come back to this issue about manufacturing. There are an awful lot of manufacturing workers, as we have all said, losing their jobs, but I think it is terribly important that none of us talk down British manufacturing, because if we give the impression that it is all a disaster, then why on earth would any young person want to go out there and do an apprenticeship or get into engineering? Why would any investor want to put their money into it? Alongside the very bad news which is devastating, for instance, the workers at Alstom, the train plant, there is also the good news with the Hawk, that I have already mentioned, the £50 million of support that we are putting into chemicals through NES Chlor, which we have worked on with the unions. Toyota is putting in a third shift at Burmaston and creating a thousand new really good manufacturing jobs.
What is absolutely central to the manufacturing strategy is not just putting more money into our science base, which is one of the best in the world, but actually making sure that out of that science base, out of all that stuff we invented in Britain, we get the new businesses and jobs manufacturing the high value added products here in Britain. We need a hell of a lot more of that, and we need more of our existing businesses who are losing their competitiveness at the moment, working with that new technology so that they raise their game and keep people in work here. We can do that. We can do it together.
Digby Jones: But, Patricia, we have not really got the power of making that work if you have got a French Government that break the rules and subsidise at home to enable those companies to come over here and take our jobs.
Sheena MacDonald: This could run and run. We do not have time for that. I am going to ask you a final question, Digby.
Could you clarify this phrase 'outright obstruction' that you used 're union leaders'. Who were you thinking off? (Laughter)
Digby Jones: As to the words I used, I am not even going to say what I meant to say was, in my address I said that change worries everybody but we have to change, whether it is public sector or private sector. We have to get adaptable to the world of work. That frightens everybody. No one likes change. But if all that -- I am talking about the drive for change, be it from Government, business, a hospital, a school or a prison - you get is, 'No, no', 'Cant', 'Shant' and 'Wont' - 'Now talk to me', what you are not going to get is the need for change, the need for reform and the fusion of the best that the private and public sector can bring together. By the way, some of that might mean 'public very good' and 'private not very good' or it might be the other way round in other situations.
What I am after is an open mind and a way of going forward to meet these threats of the 21st Century. 'Outright obstruction' means that one just stands there and goes, 'No', 'Shant', 'Wont' - 'Now talk to me'. If you get that, at the end of the day, the very people who are terrified of change and are sitting there are going to be done badly by it, not well by it. That does not mean that we have got all the answers, but we might have some of them. It does not mean that the public sector have got all the answers, but they have certainly got some of them. It is together that we get an answer.
Sheena MacDonald: Thank you very much for your open ears. Please thank our stand up performers. (Applause)
The President: Thank you very much, Sheena and and three participants.
I offer my apologies for not quite getting it off with the right degree of gravitas that the subject undoubtedly deserved. Many thanks to Sheena and the three participants in giving us much food for further thought.
Before I move on to the next item, let me take this opportunity of welcoming another guest who has been with us on the platform since earlier this morning. I refer to John Evans, the Secretary to the Trade Union Advisory Committee of the OECD.
The President: I move to Composite Motion no. 8, and indicate that the General Council supports the composite motion.
Derek Simpson (AMICUS) moved the following composite motion:
(Insert Composite Motion 8 - Manufacturing)
He said: Good morning, Conference. I suppose it is an advantage coming to the rostrum following the discussion, because I guess that everyone, if you were seated like me, would have wanted to comment on one or other aspects of that discussion. The other thing -- of course, is that Conference provides a great opportunity, particularly for general secretaries who get badgered by the media to make comments, radio broadcasts and the rest -- I think is that I have had my share of that process, like my colleagues. In connection with manufacturing, I have to say this. I did something like seven local radio interviews yesterday morning and there is disappointment in the voice of the commentators when we fail to attack Blair, the Government or decide whether Brown is better than Blair, or what is the awkward squad and are you in it, are you leading it or are you attending this or that meeting. They get quite disappointed. They say, 'Oh, you are not going to attack Blair?' and 'You are not going to rip down the Government?' One of the problems we have is how the media present the issues.
The other sad thing from my point of view is that they asked, 'Are there going to be some real battles about public services, pensions and Iraq?' However, they did not ask me if we had any problems about manufacturing. That is one of the purposes of this composite. It is to raise the question of manufacturing as high as it is possible to get on the political agenda.
It is not about individuals. It is not about Gordon Browns attitude or Blairs attitude. It is about the fundamental problems in the industry and what is happening. The media are interested in whether we will see real people like Gordon receive a hostile reception or will people walk out when Digby Jones speaks? I say, 'No, the delegates, as I understand it, to Congress are extremely democratic, polite and will give listen and give a proper reception to anybodys point of view'. It is also difficult, is it not, when you listen to that debate, when you understand that you vote for one and work for the other, to actually get too upset about what they are saying. What concerns me is what they are saying, because, to my mind, sitting listening, even though many of the aspirations and directions, which we could all share actually emerged to the words of the old song, as I see it: 'You say either and I say either; either, either, lets call the whole thing off'. Because what they singularly avoid doing is bringing the very measures that will lead to the results which they claim to be pursuing. Why, for example, when we make reference to the rail manufacturers and the plight of Alstom and Bombardier in Derby, is that they do not mention that the French Government insists that 60% of rail production has to be indigenous to France? Why do not we have that in this country? Why can we not do that? When we talk about the plight of industry being as a result of the awkward squad, of workers not being productive, why do we not refer to the only real strike in this country, and that is the investment strike? Why do we not hear Digby and his colleagues in the press attacking their own members, why are they not insisting on taking measures that will prop up their industries? Why do we not hear the Government arguing for measures like in other countries which support their industries, because every one of us knows that in France, Germany and Italy they would never allow to happen to their manufacturing industry what is allowed to happen to ours. Why, because they believe in the flexible labour market and the free movement of capital. Does it matter that a few of his members go to the wall as long as they prevail with the ultimate model of free movement of capital? It would be an impediment to have restrictions on how orders are placed. It would be a step too far to implement that legislation that made procurement an essential part of how our companies place their business.
There are many statistics, and I am not known for reading statistics or even reading speeches. I am not even all that happy about having moved this item, so when I get to the end, if I say something like 'It gives me pleasure to move this motion', forget it. I do not get any pleasure out of coming to a rostrum on the question of manufacturing.
The President: Your time is nearly up, Derek.
Derek Simpson: Five minutes passes rather quickly, doesnt it? (Laughter) Let me just finish this list. We do not expect the Government to dance to the trade unions tune, but as a colleague of mine once said, 'It would be very nice if they hummd along a little bit'. (Laughter)
Kevin Curran (GMB) in seconding the composite, said: I speak in defence of British manufacture. Since the industrial revolution Britain has been defined by its success in the manufacturing industry. We have exploited our natural resources, utilised our climate and added the essential ingredients of innovation, drive, engineering skill and industrial co-operation. We have developed what we now call 'clusters'.
We also had a limited vision of what could be achieved. There are many, many, unacceptable consequences, but the ability of the British people to turn ideas into practical reality and consumer goods was established throughout the world. We produced on a scale that was breathtaking, and we accumulated national, intellectual, design, engineering and economic capital. That is what helped to make modern Britain. As times changed, we adapted; steam to electricity, iron to steel, telegraph to telephone, horse and cart to internal combustion engine. Change, but always using the same formula - the virtual circle of research, design, innovation and training. We also had the constant cycle of investment, which kept the whole process moving.
Congress, we are now in a very different and a more challenging environment. In response to that environment, our Government lags behind Europe. All but one of our EU competitors spends more in aiding their industry. Indeed, a recent DTI statement dismissed Government aid to industry as handouts to domestic companies. This Government has turned its back on British manufacturing. As a consequence, research commissioned by the GMB reveals that more than one million people of working age are now economically inactive, neither in work or claiming benefits. Most of those one million people live in Britains manufacturing heartlands. Manufacturing jobs are disappearing at 10,000 a month. We desperate need a Minister of Manufacture, not warm on words but strong support. We need a Government to say to manufacturing employers and manufacturing employees, "You are important to us, to our economy and our communities. We value and appreciate you. We will support you through these difficult times. We will ensure that the manufacturing sector remains strong in the UK and continues to create wealth and jobs for Britain.
I say to those doommongers in Government, the CBI and the Institute of Directors, and anyone anxious to ring the death knoll of British manufacturing: you may have given up but we have not. We all join with modern day innovators in British management who share our determination and our drive and our vision. Together we need to persuade this Government that manufacturing is worth fighting for.
I say this to the Government: look where your heartland support is and share our vision. Give us a Minister for Manufacturing to ensure that the Government works with us and we will give you economic and political success. Thank you.
Rob Middlemas (ISTC, the Community Union): President and delegates, I am a steel worker. I work at Skinning Grove, which is on the north-east coast. I work for Corus, formerly British Steel. I am one of a diminishing British band who were top of the world, in the premier league, in steel productivity, yet we are bottom of the league when it comes to sales production per head of population. We are barely a quarter of the Benelux countries and only 60% of US and French per capita figures, and they are only just above us in relegation zone. We are facing not only relegation but the prospect of going out of business altogether. If the Teesside works closes we will have lost critical mass and you can say goodbye then to the rest of British manufacturing.
Why are we in this grim situation? Manufacturing has been badly let down by top executives who were brilliant at finding ways of paying themselves fortunes in bonuses but crap when it comes to managing their companies. The last Corus chairman took three fat incomes whilst presiding over the collapse of the share price from £1.80 down to less than 4 pence!
However, management bears only part of the responsibility, as during most of the past 25 years British Governments have treated manufacturing as a lost and unimportant cause. Manufacturing has had to take second place to whatever was the prevailing policy fad of that particular day. When other EU countries intervened aggressively to assist their manufacturing industries, British Governments just kept their hands clean.
Unfortunately, our own Government supported the restoration of an obsolete state plant in Romania, while it provides less help for our manufacturing than all of the EU countries except Portugal.
That is largely behind us now. The euro exchange rate at last reflects economic realities and the Government is showing that it does care, a bit. It is looking at ways within the rules to give British companies a better chance of winning public contracts. British manufacturing now has a real opportunity to recapture its market share at home and abroad. The economic forecasters tell us that manufacturing should grow by 2.5% during the next two years. So at this critical time British manufacturing really needs a boost to its confidence to take advantage of those opportunities. So, Patricia, I hope you will give us that boost today. I support.
Barry Morris (National Union of Knitwear, Footwear and Apparel Trades) in supporting the composite said: Congress, I would like to concentrate on one particular part of the composite, and that is public procurement and introduce delegates, who are not aware of it, to this magical word 'warlike'.
It is devastating to witness the demise of an industry, especially one in which, like me, you have spent a lifetime working. I refer to the textile industry. What is equally soul destroying is seeing a situation compounded by public procurement policy. The MoD has a spend of £1 billion for procurement. Only EU based companies can tender for contracts, but that does not require those companies to manufacture the goods in the EU. So we finish up buying cheap and often inferior products with the resulting unemployment that follows. It is, colleagues, economic madness. Jobs have been lost, companies have closed and they will never come back because of a cast in stone interpretation of EU rules by the MoD - unwarlike.
Best value really needs to be thought through. The current policy is not in the best interests of the UK taxpayer and it is certainly not in the best interests of British workers. The MoD, in reducing its number of suppliers, leaves SMEs out in the cold, specialist suppliers who have served the MoD over many years. On the one hand, we have government policy, which is to support small and medium enterprises, and then we have the MoD policy. So we do need joined-up thinking. The MoD hides behind a rigid interpretation of EU rules on procurement.
Other EU countries support their own respective industries. If any product is viewed as warlike many EU countries take the stance that allows them to buy locally, but not so our MoD. For the life of me, Congress, I cannot understand why, under a Labour Government, we are having to highlight a ludicrous situation where thousands of our members are thrown out of work because the MoD is a law until itself.
Technical textiles, we are told, is the area to go into, so we have. It might surprise you to know, delegates, that the MoD have armoured vehicles that are made up of only 60% of technical textiles. Warlike vehicles they must be, but we remain the poor relations. Local authorities, too, could keep thousands of people in work not as a favour but by buying quality clothing made locally and the economic success that that would bring if a change in procurement rules transpired. Fire, police and NHS, to name a few organisations, have to be clothed. Best value needs to be considered, not just the lowest price. It has to take into account the research and development that specialised products necessitate. How many times did we hear during the Iraq war that our armed forces were either having problems with kit or short of it and buying their own? Remember the boots that melted, colleagues! Well, they dont melt when they are made in Northampton.
It is too late for many, but it is not those companies remaining. We need a change in the current rules, the change that would allow local authorities and government departments to support the UK industry. If France and Germany can clothe their armed forces because of their interpretation of 'warlike', then, surely, we could. I support.
Joe Marino (Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union) speaking in support of the composite motion, said: President, we are supporting the composite and speaking specifically to that section of it that deals with below-cost selling.
Let me say, right at the start, that there are two things that we are not against. First of all, there is nothing technically wrong with discounting and you will never outlaw discounting. We are not asking for that. But what we are asking for is a level playing field. Nor is it our job to put forward propositions to assist the employer in that sense. We are concerned about the issue in manufacturing industry where certain retailers abuse the power that they have in order first to manufacture, to sell their goods to those retailers and, therefore, put jobs and consumer choice at risk.
It does not happen in other countries. That is why we are asking the General Council to look at what happens elsewhere in the European Union, but also in places like the United States of America. For example, if retailers want to discount an item in the United States, then they can do so for a specific period of time. After that, they are then not allowed to do it for a 12 month period. That stops the ludicrous situation of retailers being able to force manufacturers through things like Internet purchasing where a manufacturer is told, "If you want to keep your business, then what you have to do is make a secret Internet bid" and it must be at a lower price than what you have your existing business for.
That may be fine and maybe, to an extent, as we are told, it keeps inflation down. But at the end of the day, first of all, it destroys consumer choice because you are going to drive out business. It is not just in the food industry, by the way. We heard from KFAT that it happens in the textile industry as well. You force those companies out of work, workers lose their jobs and consumer choice is cut down.
We have a company -- I am not going to name names because it is unfair to do so -- in our own industry who have actually taken a stated position on discounting that, "We are prepared to give the stuff away, first of all, in order to drive out business our competitors and, once we have done that, we are going to be able to control the market". That is short-sighted and, at the end of the day, comrades, what it does is it forces people out of work.
We are asking the General Council to look at what is happening in the rest of the world and to bring back information on that so that we can then start the campaign. But I really do want to emphasise that we are not attacking individual retailers and we are not attacking discounting per se. We are attacking unfair advances given by certain retailers and the Government have to wake up to this because, at the end of the day, it will result in unemployment and it will also stop consumer choice.
On that basis, Chair, we support Composite 8 and we hope the General Council will do that research. Thank you.
Tony Burke (Graphical, Paper and Media Union) supporting the composite motion, said: Congress, along with metals, textiles and electronics, printing, packaging and paper-making are also suffering. Companies that once employed hundreds of workers now operate with a handful of workers who wonder if they will have a job at the end of the week -- never mind at the end of the year. Skilled workers who invested their lives in the industries have been thrown on the scapheap and what future do they face? Low paid, short term or agency employment.
Two hundred GPMU members, sacked at a day's notice at Crown Wall Coverings in Lancashire, now have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. To our members it seems that Bruce Springsteen was right when he sang, "All the good jobs have gone and they ain't coming back".
The recent IPPR Report indicated that by 2010 a further 700,000 jobs will be lost in manufacturing. By 2050, if current trends prevail, manufacturing will account for just 5 per cent of employment. That is a disaster for our members, a disaster for the country and a disaster for our unions. Without a strong manufacturing base, we will not have decent public services and we will not have a strong service sector.
Congress, Labour's 1997 anthem was "Things can only get better". In 2003 it does not seem that way to our members: 600,000 jobs lost in manufacturing; around 40,000 jobs lost in the printing, packaging and paper industries. Okay, there have been contributing factors. They switched to digital technology and our absence from the euro has taken its toll but let us have a look at other factors. Low productivity is caused by a lack of training. Lack of proper information and consultation with the workforce has been highly damaging to our economy.
Congress, the recent Porter Report on UK Competitiveness highlighted many of the problems we have. We have too many companies who take the low road. They are locked into low cost goods and they are locked into low cost services. Digby Jones stressed the importance of the future knowledge economy. The Porter Report suggested the UK is not even well placed to compete in a knowledge economy for the future. What a condemnation!
Congress, we need a manufacturing strategy based on real investment, real skills, real training and proper information and consultation with the workforce. But, importantly, to Patrici Hewitt I would say that we need a government that is prepared to really get behind manufacturing to give us the support and give us the help. So support manufacturing workers and their families and support investment in all of our futures. Thank you very much.
Brian Revell (Transport and General Workers' Union) supporting the composite motion, said: Good morning, colleagues. I wish to comment on the below-cost selling in Composite 8 which arises from the Bakers Union motion.
I also want to take this opportunity to draw to your attention that food manufacturing is a major part of the UK manufacturing industry. Food manufacturing employs half a million people in our country. The food industry is under greater competitive pressure from globalisation. We are getting poultry coming in from Thailand and Brazil and we are finding products are coming into this country from many parts of the world that have never been traded globally in the past. Also, the food industry is under far greater pressure as the power of the supermarkets gets greater and greater.
The practice of selling at below-cost prices distorts the market and imposes crushing pressures on bakeries and other food processors. Power is not evenly spread along the food chain. It is concentrated in the hands of the giant food retailers and the supermarkets. When a supermarket sells a loaf of bread at 17p, when a supermarket sells baked beans at 7p a can and when a supermarket sells milk at 35p a litre, they sell at a loss. But there is a hidden cost: dairies, bakeries and food factories can be put out of business by this competitive pressure. Supermarkets may be trading in over 20,000 product lines and it is obvious that they can take a loss on one or two lines to get the customer into the shop.
With power comes responsibility. If power is not used wisely then there must be regulation. France, Germany, Ireland and Spain have already introduced legislation to prohibit low-cost selling. Similar legislation should be introduced into the UK. But, colleagues, we need to go further. We would like to ask the TUC to call a meeting of the food industry trade unions in order that we can collectively develop a policy to protect the British food manufacturing industry from the violent pressures of a market which is dominated by major retailers. Support the composite and let it be a call to action. Thank you.
(The right of reply was waived)
* Composite Motion 8 was CARRIED
The President: Delegates, you will have noticed the arrival on the platform of Trevor Phillips from the Commission for Racial Equality. Trevor, can I welcome you to Congress today. I will be saying a few more words of appreciation later when I invite Trevor to address Congress. (Applause)
The President : Colleagues, we now move on to Chapter 2 of the General Council's Report on page 22 and I call Gloria Mills to lead in on race equality issues on behalf of the General Council.
Gloria Mills (General Council) moved section 2.5 of the General Council's Report on race equality. She said: Good morning President and Congress, we commend adoption of the report. The General Council would like to offer support to Composites 5 and 6. We invite you not only to vote for these motions but to recognise and understand the very serious nature of the rise of racism and fascism in this country.
It is often said that there is no room for complacency in fighting racism and this is certainly true when it comes to opposing the far right and the BNP. The General Council commends the work of the unions, particularly those unions that have been active in supporting local communities but the election of 16 BNP councillors in the local election of May 2003 is something that we should be seriously concerned about. It is something that this country should be ashamed of and it is something that should never have been allowed to happen. The demonisation and scapegoating of asylum seekers since the general election, the hysteria and the media obsession with the issue have made the racist rhetoric of the far right acceptable. It has given confidence to the BNP. It has given credibility to their racist message and encouraged support for their policies in local elections.
Not only do we see people in this country willing to go out and vote for parties of the far right, but they are gaining a foodhold in our local councils. They are polluting and they are poisoning the body politic of this country and our public institutions. Where those parties are elected to local councils we are also witnessing an increase in violence against asylum seekers, refugees and the settled black community. These matters are not unconnected. They represent dangerous developments in this country. They feel intolerance, tension and fear in our communities.
The BNP has used the politics of hate to try to achieve political success at the ballot box and they are gaining ground and making inroads in local politics. Wherever the BNP engage in activities of racial hatred there is an increase in racial tension and racial attacks. These developments represent a significant shift in what is seen as acceptable in this country and what is not. It gives more than a veneer of political respectability to parties of the far right. Local councils give the far right political influence over local policies and local decisions that affect local communities. Political representation gives life to their policies. That is why we should take up the General Secretary's pledge never to rest so long as the BNP have a seat on local councils. It is not okay to vote for the parties of the far right. It is not okay because they stand for hate and division in our communities and work places.
The General Council is supporting Composites 5 and 6, as I have said. Composite 6 rightly points out that educating the children of asylum seekers separately in so-called 'accommodation centres' is a disgrace. Where is the compassion that we expect from a Labour Government? Where is the humanity and where is the fairness we were promised on asylum policy?
We need to have dynamic organised campaigns against the far right. The TUC and affiliated unions have been leading the challenge so far. We need actively to mobilise trade unions and community support at local level. Where unions have organised against the far right they have had a huge effect in helping to stop the far right from gaining a foothold in those councils.
We are pleased with the work of the TUC regions and trades councils but we need to do more. We need to be bolder in asserting our values and bolder in saying that we stand for promoting a message of justice, equality and unity.
It was 10 years ago that the world became aware of the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence on the streets of South London, a murder for which there has still not been justice. We have seen a monumental failure in bringing to justice the people who murdered Stephen. That is why we need to ensure that institutional racism is rooted out of all public institutions.
How can we seriously challenge institutional racism if we do not tackle the larger and perhaps more dangerous racism posed by the rise of the far right. The fact is that we have to challenge both and we have to challenge those who wish to re-write the Stephen Lawrence Report. There is no benefit in re-writing the Stephen Lawrence Report. The challenge is that we should not get bogged down in a sterile debate about defining what is and what is not institutional racism. We know racism is, all too sadly, alive and well -- whatever form it takes.
Our commitment is to fight racism in all its forms and that includes institutional racism. The General Council wants to see the new duty to promote race equality extended to the private sector. That is why we are committed to working with the Commission for Racial Equality to deliver its obligations, to promote and enforce a new public duty and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act. That is why it is important that Leslie Manasseh from the General Council will be representing the General Council and the TUC on the new task group that has been set up to implement the findings of the Research Report on the barriers facing black workers in the labour market.
But we need to see tangible outcomes to this work. We need to make the Government and employers aware that there is an economic penalty to racism in local communities. It drives away investment and jobs in those communities. It stifles regeneration and undermines the Government's commitment to community cohesion. Our task is a challenging one. It is about turning rhetoric into reality. It is about giving real hope to people who are under attack. The trade union Movement stands side by side with them in their hour of need. Let us commend the UNISON campaign slogan: "Let us say no to racism and no to them and us". Thank you Congress. I move.
Opposing the BNP and Racism
Billy Hayes (Communication Workers' Union) moved Composite Motion 5.
(Insert Composite Motion 5 - Opposing the BNP and Racism)
He said: Congress, campaigning against the BNP must be a major priority for the trade union Movement. Since the local elections the BNP has gained two more council seats in a recent by-election in Grays with a side ward in Essex, in Heckmond Dyke and Kirklees. When the BNP win a council seat racist attacks increase.
In Burnley between April 2002 and March 2003, 237 racist attacks were recorded. This is an increase of 149 per cent from April 2000 to March 2001 when 95 crimes were recorded and this corresponds with an increase in BNP activity in the area. Advances by the BNP do not emerge out of a vacuum. They are made possible by the context of a negative climate created by restrictive asylum and immigration legislation. We saw the hysteria on the issue of asylum in some tabloid newspapers and the growth of racism, particularly towards the Muslim communities in the aftermath of September 11th. A policy like citizenship tests on British history for new immigrants, far from stopping the BNP, legitimises BNP racism.
Congress, the Government are now preventing asylum seekers from obtaining legal advice. The Government are aiming to prevent asylum seekers from receiving medical treatment on the NHS. Asylum seekers are being forced to beg on the streets in the absence of any means of survival. Is it any wonder that racists like the BNP are gaining when the Government are clearing the ground for it? What happened to our commitment to the UN Convention on Refugees which obliges our Government to protect those fleeing persecution?
Our Movement must learn the lessons from campaigns that have defeated the BNP. Where the threat posed by the BNP is exposed and the anti-BNP majority cast its vote, the BNP can be defeated. The coalition against racism "Unite to stop the BNP" was key in stopping the BNP in Oldham for two successive years and, more recently, in the Hampton Park by-election in Burnley with a high turn out defeated the BNP.
The approach of bringing together all those opposed to the BNP and ensuring political parties explicitly campaigned against the BNP in elections is one that has to be read and must be copied everywhere. Ignoring the threat they pose cannot defeat the BNP. Their racism must be exposed. We cannot ignore the threats and hope that they go away. This has never worked.
We welcome the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's proposals to extend the "Respect, Not Racism" initiative on a national basis. This followed the huge success of the Mayor's Respect festivals in the last three years. Over 100,000 people attended this year's Respect at the Dome, dedicated to the memory of Stephen Lawrence. The "Respect, Not Racism" conference on November 6th is an opportunity for public authorities, trade unions and voluntary organisations to work together to promote anti-racism; to celebrate the contribution of our diverse community; to oppose discrimination and to share experiences of countering racism.
In June 2004 in local elections, there will be all out multi-vote elections in the Metropolitan Boroughs, and the BNP will need to finish third to gain council seats in those boroughs. The European elections will take place on the same day. It is likely that the 'oh so clever' Nick Griffin will stand in the north-west region.
The trade union Movement has a duty to prioritise opposition to BNP in these elections. We do not want to see the growth of a large fascist party as it happened in France, Italy, Denmark and other European countries. This is quite literally a matter of life and death, particularly for Britain's black community.
We, as a Movement, have done excellent work on ending racism. We have done excellent work in terms of discrimination. But we have to take the campaign to the BNP and be specific that support for the BNP for growth of the BNP should be met head on. This is a serious issue ----
The President : Billy, you are going on a little bit.
Billy Hayes : Congress, to wind up, support the proposition. Say "no" to racism. I move.
Sam Allen (The University & College Lecturers' Union) in seconding Composite Motion 5 said: Congress, as an education union, we have several specialist concerns about the impact of BNP activities in our community. The segregated education being forced on children of asylum seekers is a form of discrimination and makes the growth of mutual understanding and acceptance impossible.
There is a rise of BNP far right activities in our colleges and universities. Lecturers who take a stand afford little protection and their health and safety are put at risk. Several of our members have been named and websites While our members are very happy to teach English to refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world, we think the compulsory testing of English language and Britishness in the new citizenship test is grotesque. We need a very broad based approach which is fundamentally welcoming to asylum seekers and refugees, seeing them as an enrichment and not an obstacle. We need to counter the racist view of BNP and not the far right organisations by organising the broadest front against them.
This means an alliance between trade union and a range of anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations. Wherever BNP or far right candidates are standing, everyone should work together on a "Don't vote BNP" campaign . It is not only about working together. It is about actually getting out to campaign against them.
We do not need any more support for American military misadventures. We need to spend our resources on building a generous, welcoming, multicultural society. We call on the TUC General Council to lead this campaign. We also call on the TUC General Council to tell Bradford Council to stop allowing the BNP to use their building to hold meetings. In the words of Bill Morris yesterday, "Racists and their supporters have no place in our Movement" and we, NATFHE, echo that. Diana Holland also said this morning, "We cannot retreat from the BNP. We need to take them on and fight them".
The fight begins tomorrow. It is our Movement. We have got a right under that place to lead that fight. I second. Thank you.
Mick Rix (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) in supporting the composite motion said: Comrades, we need to acknowledge that our Movement is under attack. The British National Party is systematically working to infiltrate trade unions and undermine our work. We have known that they have been interfering in a recent union election and are attacking our own union's political funds. BNP activists who work to poison relations between union members and disrupt union procedures are bringing, in some respects, political work to a halt. It is intolerable that the law as it presently stands makes it difficult for unions to deal with these neo-fascists under our rules. We know, through bitter experience, how the law currently works.
It is welcoming, though, that the TUC is taking a clear stand on this issue and pressure now must be brought to bear on the Government to repeal that legislation. Do you know one of the worst things? Regular public statements by politicians, especially against asylum seekers, is fuelling race hatred in this country and is aiding and abetting the BNP's growth. It is about time some of our politicians started to face up to their facts and responsibilities and started to combat racism head on rather than fuelling racism within our society.
This legitimises, unfortunately, the BNP's rhetoric. It nourishes their roots on feeding racism, bigotry and hatred. Our Movement needs to take a more active role in fighting the racist element in our organisation and within the wider communities. Our Movement sometimes can react too slowly. We need a greater emphasis and resources to root out these racist poisonous scum.
I would like to say that another damaging thing is taking place in Queensbury, in Bradford this week on Wednesday. The BNP are holding a majory rally. Local politicians and indeed MPs and community activists have urged Bradford Council to ban that rally under the Public Order Act. The Tory and Liberal controlled Council of Bradford have refused to do so. I am going to urge the TUC: Let us start putting some pressure on today to start to fight back against the BNP attacking our communities.
Finally, comrades, I would like to thank all the messages of support that our unions received during our recent legal case. I would like to thank the TUC especially for taking this on on our behalf. And I would like to make this final point. I have been asked, would we do anything differently as a trade union in the recent legal challenge that was taken against us. The answer is no because the answer is simple. There is no room for Nazis; there is no room for racists in our Movement and our communities and I am damned proud of what my union did. I support.
Veronica Dunn (UNISON) in supporting the composite motion said: President and Congress, the BNP claim to speak for working people; that they are the party that can help to turn around all the problems faced in many regions.
We all know the truth, Congress. They only have one policy -- to stir up racist and fascist feelings and they are simply using our very real social and economic difficulties as a front for creating division and hatred. They have targeted areas where the Government has not addressed the results of industrial decline. They have used the lack of jobs and poor investment in public services to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear. They have used the issue of poverty to promote the idea that things would be better if asylum seekers and immigrants were not allowed to live in Britain.
Brendan Barber called yesterday for us to take our campaign to every street corner. Let me tell you a real story. Last Thursday, there was a by-election in east end of Newcastle -- in the world I was born in. Before the election took place, the local paper, the Sunday Sun, said, "We have only contempt for the fascists and racists who go by the name of the BNP." Their attempts to sow division and discord among neighbours sparks memories of Moseley, Mussolini and Hitler and those whose narrow-minded bigotry allows them to be drawn towards such hatemongers cannot hide from such inevitable comparisons. The rest of us, though, should determine to deny these dangerous fools success at the ballot box in the local government election that takes place -- a strong statement, Congress.
My UNISON branch lobbied the count where a substantial number of BNP supporters turned up to support their candidate, who lost. Their behaviour was, as you can imagine, provocative, swaggering and intimidatory. One of them pointed his finger at me and declared, "The streets belong to us". Congress, let me say, "No way. Never. Not while trade unions exist"! Not while the Northern Regional TUC is doing everything it can in Sunderland, Middlesborough, Newcastle, Durham and Darlington to bring together the broadest coalition of trade unions, church groups, labour party member and community groups. Hundreds of people turn up at every meeting. They are showing a commitment to working towards a real multicultural society where black and Asian people can be free from racist attacks and can participate equally with equal opportunity and for equal pay.
Trade unions have a huge responsibility here not just to train their own activists but to work with trades councils and other organisations working in this area -- National Assembly against Racism, Show Racism the Red Card, Seachlight and the Coalition Against Racism -- to ensure that message permeates everywhere. We need to provide more training and trade unions should commit to put all our activists through this type of training.
A different type of project exists in Oldham in the ward where Nick Griffin lives. UNISON has worked for two years with families of activist children in a youth inclusion programme to challenge the rise in misinformation from Griffin and his cronies. Good practice exists. Let us share it. Congress, let us send out one clear message this week: "no racism. No them and us".
Pauline Arthur (CONNECT): President and Congress, in supporting this composite, I am concentrating particularly on the part which encourages Congress and all its affiliates to support Searchlight in exposing the loathsome and criminal activities of the BNP.
Ten years ago this month the BNP had its first local councillor elected in Tower Hamlets. Last week we saw them get their 17th councillor in Essex. We know that they are fielding candidates in other by-elections in the coming months and they have plans to have many candidates in the 2004 local elections and, at the same time, they are setting their sights on the European elections. This has to be more than a wake-up call for us.
By providing active support to Searchlight, we can support an organisation whose aim is to combat racism, fascism and all forms of prejudice. Searchlight is a non-sectarian organisation in political, ethnic and religious terms. It believes in achieving the broadest unity in this fight. Its formation in the summer of 1962 was in response to the resurgence of open violent neo-Nazism activities. Since 1975 they have published Searchlight as a monthly magazine.
Searchlight has most recently opened a new service, the Searchlight Information Service, that carries out specialist research on the far right and racism in Britain. One of the many functions of this service is to expose the illegal and the extremely unpleasant activities of fascists, racists and anti-semites. It works closely with the media. Searchlight remains the first port of call for many journalists writing on the subject of fascism and racism. It regularly plays a role in producing documentaries for television and for providing radio interviews. The intelligence and information that they provide is unique in the world.
Everything I have said is reason enough to support Searchlight but, for me, there are more compelling reasons why you must suport them. These people are the bravest people we may ever be privileged to be associated with. They go undercover into fascist and racist organisations and they reveal those organisations' innermost secrets and activities. The personal risks they take are massive. Few people would have the courage to take those risks. But it is a job that has to be done and they do it. It is a job that has to be done because, if we are to beat these organisations and ensure that everyone is free to live their lives in peace and without fear, it has to be done and they do it.
Why do they do it? They do it because it is about shining a light into the darkest and most loathsome corners of the black heart of fascism to show them up for what they are. It is a job that has to be done and they do it brilliantly. Their aims are totally dedicated to exposing the worst secrets of these organisations and their leadership. It is what they do and they do it brilliantly.
Congress, we all have a responsibility to oppose the BNP and these racist/fascist organisations. I ask you to show our commitment by supporting Composite 5 unanimously and by supporting Searchlight. Congress, please support.
Rob Thomas (The Trade Union and Professional Association for Family Court and Probation Staff) in supporting the composite said: I am drawing particular attention to the cause of appeal, section 55, of the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. That is a section which leads to refusal of benefits for asylum seekers. That is the legislation which makes it easier for racists in this country to treat mainly black asylum seekers as something less than human.
As recently as 31st July this year, Shelter and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants brought a legal challenge to this legislation and won. In announcing his judgment, Mr. Justice Maurice Kay made the following statements: "For a protracted but indefinite period of time for the determination of his asylum application, it will often happen that, denied access to employment and other benefits, he will soon be reduced to a state of destitution without accommodation, food or the means to obtain them he will have little alternative but to beg and sleep rough. The applicants have been forced into a life so destitute that no civilised nation could tolerate it". That is what the judge said.
During that court case Shelter gave evidence to say that all three men cited in the proceedings were malnourished and living in appalling conditions. Also, they explained that there is virtually no charitable provision available to people denied support as a result of section 55. What is the Government's reaction to this? They immediately slap in an appeal. On previous occasions when they have lost an appeal they threaten to immediately changed the law.
Just tell me this. What makes David Blunkett and others in this current Government believe that they know better than judges who sit in court for day after day of a legal hearing to decide on the facts? What makes them think that when courts rule against them time after time on human rights grounds that they know better. But they do not know better. The Institute of Public Policy Research, just within the last fortnight, have issued statistics which, it argues, show that present law is excluding genuine asylum seeks from protection. The proportion of negative decisions made by the Home Office, overturned on appeal, has risen from 17 to 21 per cent in the last quarter.
Once again the Home Office tries to subvert the legal system. It is wrong that the 2002 Act makes it easier for them to do this. It is shameful that the Government continues to defend it. So, Congress, please put your efforts behind repeal of these laws and call for their replacement with humane, enlightened laws. Thank you.
Stewart Clapperton (Society of Radiographers): President and Congress, the Society of Radiographers Annual Delegates Conference in April this year carried a motion supporting our south-western members who had affiliated to a local alliance fighting the rise of the BNP in that region. It just shows that it is not just the north that is an area of concern.
This year's TUC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Conference carried a Society of Radiographers motion opposing the BNP and its homophobic policies. Yesterday, Brendan in his address drew attention to the recent gain of yet another seat by the BNP. Today, I want to move things a few steps further.
"All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing". That which Edmund Burke said 250 years ago is just as true today. This composite motion calls upon the General Council to support united action. This implies it is not just they who must act but all of you out there. The challenge is yours.
I stand here looking at a mass of faces. Every trade and every profession is represented. But you also have other lives outside work. You are part of different communities, whether they are based on your religion, politics, sexuality, hobby or whatever. Somebody, somewhere must know what is happening. Do not keep it to yourself. If you know of BNP activity, pass it on. Trade unions can then act with other organisations; national, regional or, more probably, local. If the trade union knows of a campaign, inform the members. If an individual knows of a campaign, inform the trade union. There should be a circle of information. Only when armed with this information, can united action be taken.
But what is the object of this action? To get people to vote. Where the BNP is putting up a candidate people must be made aware that their vote will count. No low turnouts. The BNP wins seats because of our apathy and no other reason. For evil to win, do nothing. I urge you to support Composite Motion 5. Thank you.
Colin Moses (Prison Officers' Association): Supporting Composite 5 and drawing your attention to the amendment put in by the Prison Officers' Association, which reads: 'Congress calls upon the General Council to ensure the Government recognise that the far right will seek to infiltrate occupations such as the police, prison and social services in order to enact their racial abuse in 'protected' areas of individual care'.
All of us who stand against the British National Party should realise that if I want to come to someone's door as a British National Party candidate I will come under the guise of a law and order candidate. If I can come under the guise of a law and order candidate, hiding behind an occupation such as a police officer or a prison officer, those will get me votes. What we should have is what we have in the Prison Service: any known member of the BNP will be dismissed from the Prison Service. That is the employers' stance. To become a member of the Prison Officers' Association you have to be a prison officer, so if the employer dismisses him we do not want him in our union and we do not want him in our union even if the employer wants him.
What we are saying to the BNP, and I have said it for many years, is do not become a prison officer. In the late nineties we had a member who was then a member of the National Front, stood on a European ticket, was given seven weeks off work to run his campaign, paid leave, by the then Prison Service Director. He stood in a London seat. We expelled him. The Prison Service kept him in employment. That has changed. It has changed to this effect. As I say again, we cannot have these people employed where they can victimise anyone, and if you want to victimise someone come into a prison as a member of the BNP. They should not be allowed to work in the immigration services.
What I would like to hear is a Chief Constable in this country come on TV and say that the police will not employ anybody who is a member of the British National Party. We can send out all the clear messages we want, that we do not want them to win elections. I just do not want them not to win elections; I do not want them to be in existence!
The oxygen they feed on is the oxygen of law and order. If we can ban them from places of work we can ban them from union membership.
I will close now on this. We banned them; we waited for them to come after us with the law. They have not.
Gerard Dempsey (Graphical, Paper and Media Union): Supporting this crucial composite against the evil of the BNP. The GPMU is one hundred per cent in support of this composite.
As trades unionists we rightly welcome asylum seekers fleeing persecution to the UK and to our members' communities, or escaping the carnage and suffering inflicted by the crude unjust policies of Blair and Bush. However, a constant worry is the hardening of attitudes by many ordinary people in our workplaces -- in the pubs and out on the streets -- against asylum seekers. That must be confronted.
The continued rising support for the BNP must be tackled by confronting the policies it thrives on. The BNP are parasites and they are thugs in suits. The media, mainstream politicians and ministers, in particular Blunkett, have helped to fuel the tensions and create the conditions for the fascists to build on. They have to curb the xenophobia, racist and bigotted drivel, which passes from their mouths and pages daily. The press are doing this on a daily basis now. The BNP must be banned from TV and radio stations.
Unions should be free to expel BNP members. They are contrary to the aims, values and objects of this Movement.
People are misinformed; they are afraid. It is a protest in desperation because mainstream parties are alienating people with their policies. People are getting more disillusioned by the day. No party that is truly representative listens to the valid concerns of working class people. The BNP are exploiting this. We know the social issues that people out there want to be tackled -- tuition fees, pensions, public service, council housing, job security. The BNP do not give a toss for these concerns. The TUC agenda and the public must be listened to more by the government; people must be valued and respected between elections. Otherwise it will help to create a more fertile and corrosive breeding ground for the BNP to fester.
Finally we welcome the tough stance by our comrades in ASLEF. Trades Councils are doing difficult jobs under threat, but trades unions need to help their local Trades Councils much more. BNP members have no place in our unions. They must be rooted out, free from legal redress. The law must not be tinkered with. Unions, not lawyers, must be allowed to control their own Rule Books. Unions send a clear message: support this composite.
Roland Biosah (Public and Commercial Services Union): I would like to say a little bit about racism. I think Congress needs to thank itself, to pat itself on the back as well. As someone who has been a regular watcher of Congress, this is the best year that Congress has had in a long time in the number of black faces I can see around me. Congress, thank you very much.
It is also relevant to take into account the fact that not only have we been here in numbers, we have been up here speaking on some issues which have nothing to do with race, which is also wonderful. Affiliates please take note.
Now racism in the workplace: racism in the workplace is the most terrible cancer that is undermining the good work being done by affiliates. It is a sad life when someone cannot tell a decent joke and have a good laugh without it being racist. We do not find racist jokes very funny, thank you very much. If you cannot survive in the work environment without telling racist jokes then I am sorry for you.
I think it is necessary also to recognise at this particular juncture that the effect of government and local authorities in not providing adequate jobs or in dealing with the environment leads to racism because it gives the BNP, and people like that, a reason to have a go at black people. If you can show me one black Minister who is able to change things tomorrow morning I will tell you we will have some hope.
It is also necessary to congratulate the Labour Government on giving us Amendment 2000. Unfortunately, I am sorry to say, we have not fully utilised it. We have not fully utilised it because if we have a situation where something has been done wrong by local authorities or government, the CRE -- who str supposed to be the people watching out for this situation -- do not have the resources to carry this out. They are looking at the possibility of knocking the CRE and everything into one commission. That is frightening, because if we cannot even provide resources to ensure the CRO can do its job then I am very sorry.
Finally we have to look at our procedures and practices, which means institutionalised racism. The fact that someone can go and have a break to have a smoke and someone cannot go and have a break to have a prayer is not acceptable. That is the type of thing we are talking about.
Finally, before I sit down I want to talk to you in the words of Agry(?), a very great son of Africa, who said once before -- I hope the Musicians Union will not beat me up -- that the fact of the matter is that you can play good music on the white keys of the pianoforte, you can play good music on the black keys of the pianoforte, but if you want harmony, brothers and sisters, you must play both the black and white keys.
Gargi Bhattacharyya (Association of University Teachers): I have a few things to say in support of the composite, but extending the discussion.
The first thing is that I do not think you would persuade anyone not to be a racist by just preaching at them and saying 'Do not be a racist'. We have to think about who we are speaking to through our campaigns. A lot of how we speak about fascism really assumes that it is us in the room. We have to think about all of those people who do not agree with us yet, and how we engage them in that debate. Everything that just sounds like an insult, not listening and just putting them down before we start is not going to work. Even though it sticks in my gullet as well we have to find ways of engaging with people who are actually racists.
Part of that is about hearing the grievances that lead people to the BNP. I really believe there must be some real grievances, not just about hating the Asians and the asylum seekers and the Jews and everyone else in the world. There is something that leads people to those parties that we need to be able to hear and say we have a better alternative to solve, we have a way that we can organise with you that will get you the things you want and those boot boys in the fascist parties will never get you those things, because we have to be that political alternative. We cannot just say 'Don't do this', we also have to say positively 'Do this better thing'.
Tied up with that, we need to think about what we are saying when we say who should be in the leadership of this Movement. I spend lots of my time arguing for black self organisation, and I think there is a central role for the black community, the gay community and the asylum seeking community in the anti-fascist struggle. We also need to think about who are the human capital here, who have we got and if like recruits like who are going to be able to speak to people who might be vulnerable to being taken over by the BNP. One of the things we do not lack in the trade union Movement is heterosexual, white blokes and it is time for those comrades to come on up and work along with all of us minority groups to show that we can be a mixed and diverse group of people working for some common goals. We are trying to be that; we are not quite there yet but at least we are trying. I do not see anyone else even trying that. That is the only way we are going to combat fascism on the streets, not only by saying 'Don't be a racist' but by saying that there are other ways that ordinary working people can get the things they want, and it is by pooling together, it is by collectivism.
The last thing I am going to say is that this summer has been an odd summer politically, and me and my mum -- and lots of other people -- have been watching the tele and laughing and crying every now and then, and we need to realise how deep that cynicism about the political process is. There is no point in saying that these are thugs in suits at a time when a lot of the electorate think that everybody who wins an election is just a thug in a suit. It is not a good argument, so we need to find a way in which we renew democracy. That is really hard for us, but we will never win the other things we have talked about at this Conference unless we persuade people that taking part can make things better. The fascists will tell people that things can only get better if you let me go and give someone else a kicking. We have to give an alternative to that and it says you all have some power, work with me and we will get what we want.
Vickie Knight (Fire Brigades' Union): Supporting Composite 5. Comrades, the word 'alarmed' in the first line of this composite is quite true but somewhat soft, we feel, as a reaction.
Congress I hope is appalled at the ballot box success of the fascist scum who pervade some of our towns and cities. We knew it was coming and we did not do enough. The Labour Party's consistent pandering to the right wing press undermines at every opportunity the campaigns that the trade union Movement has coordinated against the fascists, racists and breeders of hate. Therefore, our campaigns must not stop. Bullying and displacing people, and then refusing them legal entry into the UK, is not a recipe for good positive race relations. The so-called tough approach to asylum will fuel the fascists agenda, not stop them, and reception centres could be an invention of the racists themselves.
The full weight of the trade union Movement and its affiliated organisations is desperately needed to address some desperate situations in our towns and cities. We must rid our society, and most importantly our Movement, of the scourges of fascism, racism, hate and intolerance. Members of the FBU are also at the sharp end when people react to immigration and racist abuses, such as a detention centre being set on fire. Inner city violence, with inevitable petrol bombing, etc.. is why we welcome and support this composite.
Also, this is why we welcome the emphasis on education and campaigning work within the composite. Of course, we need clear rules giving every union the power to discipline members involved in racist activity in the workplace and in the union. This is not an attack on being a member of a political party but an attack on unacceptable and racist behaviour. Our message is this: let us step up the action, hit the racists and the fascists with everything we have. In the words of our President, Nigel de Gruchy, as a democratic, voluntary organisation we should have the freedom to write our own rule books. The Labour Party can expel Ken Livingstone, the only politician with the guts to challenge the dominance of the car, but unions like ASLEF cannot expel the self-declared racists from the BNP whose main motive in joining is to receive financial compensation for being unfairly kicked out.
Lastly, Terry Fields, Dave Nellis and many others have been expelled from the Labour Party as members of left-wing organisations, yet we cannot legally expel an extreme right-wing activist for breaching our trade union rules and policies put in place to try and make things better. That is hypocrisy I think. Talking of hypocrisy, what will they do with George Galloway? Support the composite.
Joe Mann (ISTC, The Community Union): President, in supporting the composite motion wholeheartedly I want to draw attention in particular to the disgust with which our organisation views all fascists and racists. Their approach to trade union values is wholly malevolent; they seek to pervert our unions to become instruments of their wicked lies and hatred. We must oppose them at every turn. It is a sad reflection on us all that the law since 1992 prevents us from expelling them. We used to have a set of rules, policed by the TUC, which meant that we did have this control. The Bridlington principles made the TUC the arbiter of union membership questions before the state, through the 1992 legislation, usurped our right to exercise freedom of association.
This is no marginal. unimportant loss. The right of freedom of association is an absolutely fundamental human right. It is the key to all the organisations, like unions and political parties, that won respect for all the other human and democratic freedoms. It was the key to our survival in 1940 and 1941 and the key to our eventual victory over all the fascists in Europe. It is enshrined in the United Nations Covenant of Human Rights and most clearly and solemnly in ILO Convention 87. Britain was the first country in the world to ratify it but, as the ILO Committee of Experts frequently point out, we are also failing lamentably to give effect to our obligations. Freedom of association means that members of voluntary organisations, like unions, cannot be forced to associate with those they abhor.
I was very pleased to hear yesterday the unanimous calls for freedom of association. I hope all unions will support the call for the restoration to the TUC of the right of freedom of association for the British trade union Movement as a whole, and for every one of its affiliates, so that we can sling out the racists and fascists who will seek to destroy all democratic and human values.
I support the motion.
* Composite Motion 5 was CARRIED.
Jeremy Dear (National Union of Journalists) speaking to paragraph 2.5 of the General Councils Report said: I want to refer in particular to the section that mentions tackling institutional racism in the workplace. Two senior journalists at the BBC World Service were instantly dismissed earlier this year, in breach of the BBC's own procedures. The journalists, one a Palestinian and one an Iraqi, were marched out of the BBC's headquarters in central London. There was no investigation, no disciplinary hearing; they were denied union representation as well as any right to appeal. In 16 and 12 years respectively there had been no complaints about their work.
The BBC admits that it was an unprecedented act. The BBC confirmed that the sacking decision had been taken by Director-General, Greg Dyke, and his Executive Committee. It leaked to the media and the Daily Mail in particular. There was an account of a series of cases brought by our members and two Employment Tribunals alleging racial discrimination and victimisation. We are demanding their reinstatement, and BBC journalists earlier this year voted to take industrial action on their behalf. They also voted unanimously to condemn management for its action.
But it is more than just a single industrial issue. Greg Dyke says that the BBC is hideously white. No wonder it is hideously white. These sackings come despite a pledge to improve the ethnic diversity at the BBC, and despite a duty under the Race Relations Act to promote good race relations. This is not a matter that just affects two NUJ members; it is a matter that should affect and concern all trades unionists. The actions they took as representatives were on behalf of NUJ policy and NUJ members, challenging bad management and racism at the BBC. They spoke out for our members and we will speak out on their behalf.
For more than ten years we have called for an independent investigation into bad management and allegations of institutional racism in the BBC's World Service. These sackings make that even more vital. The two members who were sacked are here today up in the balcony; I am sure that they would like me to thank all those in the TUC who have acted already on their behalf, and thanks to the Race Relations Committee for their support. (Applause)
I hope the rest of you will come and get leaflets and the petitions that we have and speak out on behalf of these members and demand an investigation into institutional racism at the BBC.
The President : We now return to Chapter 12, TUC Organisation, on page 148 of the General Council's Report and I call Motion 99, Motions to TUC Congress. The Black Workers' Conference has agreed to remit this motion but Roland Biosah would like to explain the motion on behalf of the Committee.
Motions to TUC Congress -
(Insert Motion 99 - Motions to TUC Congress)
Roland Biosah (Public and Commercial Services Union) speaking to the remittance of Motion 99 said: In the words of quite a few media activists and the black scene across the world, it has been a long time coming. We have already looked forward to an occasion when the TUC will allow us to vote at the TUC Black Members' Conference and bring a motion to you, Congress. Unfortunately, I need to sound a very clear note of alarm, a clearest note of alarm, because there is fright, there is concern, about interrupting the free flow of democracy within the TUC black workers. At present, our motion did ask for the ability to nominate or to elect from amongst our members someone to come and speak to this motion. We have been told not to worry, the unions will do something.
I am prepared on behalf of the TUC black workers to accept this remittance on condition that affiliates will fulfil their part. If we elect someone to represent us at Congress the least we expect the affiliates to do is to ensure that those people have the facility to come to Conference. I have heard one or two people say, who is going to pay for them? Who has paid for the whole lot of you? That question needs to be answered.
We wish very much as TUC black workers to reach out in partnership to the TUC. I hope that our relationship will improve as the years go by, but I must not fail to remind people that, like Oliver Twist -- a good working class example if I ever knew one -- if our wishes are not met we will be back asking for more.
The President : I see one or two people wishing to intervene, but this is the property of the Black Workers' Conference. If they have agreed to the remission that is it.
Address by Trevor Phillips (Chair, Commission for Racial Equality)
The President : It gives me great pleasure to introduce our next guest speaker, Trevor Phillips, the Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality. Before becoming Chair of the CRE in March of this year, Trevor enjoyed an impressive career as a broadcaster. Indeed, for his contribution to broadcasting he was awarded the OBE in 1999. Trevor, a long-time trades unionist -- and I understand he will divulge the identity of his union in the course of his address -- has managed to combine his career in the media with voluntary work. He has been Chair of the Runnymede Trust and is involved in a number of leading charities working to serve the black community. Trevor was also was Chair of the London Assembly from May 2000 to February of this year. In all of that work he has fought racism and race discrimination, acting at the same time as a role model as a talented and skillful black leader.
Trevor, I have great pleasure in inviting you to address Congress. (Applause)
Trevor Phillips (Chair, Commission for Racial Equality): I have listened with great pleasure to your debate. I would like to start on a personal note. My father was for many years a shop steward in what was then the Post Office Workers' Union, now the CWU. I think if he were alive today he would be proud that this main composite against the BNP and racism was moved by his union. Thank you, Billy, and I will have the membership forms afterwards!
I have been a trades unionist myself for 27 years, as a member of the T&G first, then the NUJ and now for more than two decades a BECTU member.
It is an honour to stand on this platform, a privilege accorded to a few but twice before to the Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality. That in itself I see as a signal of the labour Movement's continuing commitment to racial equality. It is a matter of pride to share the platform with two people who have played leading roles in both the trades union Movement and the fight for racial equality: first my CRE colleague and Unison representative on the General Council, Gloria Mills; and our former Commissioner and one of the most distinguished trades unionist of my lifetime, Sir Bill Morris. Bill, I know you are still a young brother but you are the greatest of our elder statesmen and in our community we still respect our elders. Let me take the opportunity to say this, that your integrity and your unflinching commitment have been vital to us in the CRE. I expect that if you now have the odd minute or two we will be calling on your wisdom but, for what you have done so far, thank you.
May I congratulate you, Brendan, on your election to lead the TUC in these difficult times. I have been thinking back a bit wistfully to the days when we both had hair, campaigning together in the student movement. I do not know how you are finding it with the media deciding for you what you are, and so forth, but at least you have not had the privilege for the last fifteen years of being mistaken every time you get up to speak in public for some bloke who reads the news and happens to be called Trevor. I do not suppose anyone has come up to you lately and said 'My friend and I are having an argument. I think you are Trevor Phillips, the new head of the CRE, but my friend swears blind that you are Howard from the Halifax ads on TV.'
But I tell you, Brendan, we are going to have to give something extra if we are going to combat the great evil that stalks Britain today. Last week the bigots of the British National Party won their eighteenth seat in an English council. It is a small number but 18 BNP victories is 18 too many. To the shame of all democrats, racists now hold elected office in 9 English councils, and every time one of these people wins a seat it becomes easier for the next one. Congress, we can no longer dismiss the British National Party as just a bunch of knuckle-dragging apes. This evil wears a designer suit, has shiny new shoes and a polite smile. It speaks in the elegant tones of the Cambridge graduate. Their newly elected councillors even say that they detest racists. But we know what they really are. We know what they want.
Sadly we know why they are beginning to succeed. Part of the reason, let us be frank, is the failure of mainstream politics to respond to the worries and needs of ordinary folk. But there is another reason: you do not have to pass a complicated English test to be able to read the front pages of many of our newspapers. The words asylum, cheat, flood, bogus and removal should see you through most days. Some of it is just plain ridiculous: asylum seekers ate my donkey. That is education for you. But, as a journalist, I am often appalled by the lies, the half-truths and the scaremongering.
As the son of immigrants who came to this country to help re-build it after the war and who faced the 'no niggers', 'no dogs' signs, I burn with rage for those new migrants whose children's first experience of a British school is to be called a Paki or a nig-nog. Yes, the politicians are at fault. Yes, there are extremists in all communities who delight in stirring up hatred. Yes, we at the CRE may have failed to drive home the truth that Europe's working population will fall by as much as a quarter, over 60 to 70 million fewer workers in the next 40 years. We will need new, younger migrants to sustain our prosperity, our competitiveness and to pay our pensions. But the media are no longer just reporting this story; they are waging a war. I do not want to censor reporters, I was one myself, but once upon a time we believed in balance.
So, colleagues, I ask you next time you add 50,000 to your circulation with a story about so-called health tourists, please mention the 45,000 foreign nurses working in NHS hospitals today without whom none of us -- black, brown, white, citizen or refugee -- would enjoy the healthcare we take for granted now.
Let me make one point, that is the National Health Service, the most British of institutions, was launched by a Welshman, built by Irish labour, sustained by Caribbean nurses and now held together by Indian and other foreign doctors with Filipino nurses, and Somali cleaners. That is modern Britain. Let me say to my colleagues, next time you write about Yardies or drug smugglers or people traffickers, try not to forget the men and women from minority communities who daily risk their lives going under cover to reach places too dangerous for others. The next time you write about Muslim terrorists remember the young woman who fled Saddam Hussein's regime for what she thought was the safety of an English seaside town, only to be barricaded in her home by a mob for no better reason than that she wore a head scarf. Or the little boy who after September 11 broke his arm being jostled in the playground. Why? Because his name was Osama.
It is against this background that the BNP is flourishing. Each and every one of us bears a responsibility here. We at the CRE intend to play our part locally and nationally. This year we are funding over 90 local anti-racist organisations, including Race Equality Councils, to the tune of over £4.5 million. Just last week we appointed a new officer, our first with a specific job of helping us marshal the facts on asylum and immigration, and in the gale of propaganda and prejudice to help us give a voice to those who cannot yet speak for themselves.
This morning I am here with one simple message. Today, more than ever before, we cannot, we must not, compromise with racism. So let us send the message out loud and clear. Our democracy is no place for racism. I want to pay tribute to the work of trades unionists in recent council elections working alongside race equality campaigners, churches and others. You helped to turn them back in Sunderland; you helped to turn them back in Burnley. We must, with your help, turn them back next week in by-elections in Calderdale, Bradford and Burnley. The council chamber can be no place for racism.
I will tell you where else we need to turn them back. Anyone who watched England defeat Macedonia on Saturday had to be sickened by the racist abuse directed at England's players. My predecessor, Lord Ouseley, with the Professional Footballers Association -- a TUC member -- led a brilliant campaign to turn the tide against racism in British grounds. Today we need the same kind of leadership in Europe. Alongside the Kick It Out campaign I am determined to see that when our teams play in Europe it is our standards that the authorities adopt, not those of Skopje or Slovakia. Today's Europe is a diverse continent of many languages, many races, many religions. Our own team is multiracial and, much as it pains me to remind you of a French win, the victory of the world cup winning team of 1998 was achieved by the French with players from Africa, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and it blew a massive hole in the French National Front's dream of an all-white France.
It is part of the vision for Europe that all its people should be treated with equal respect and equal worth. Here is where we can start. Just as we in Britain today prosecute racists and ban them from our grounds, the EU and European football authorities should demand precisely the same from every footballing nation in Europe, including the new accession states. Where nations fail to deliver they should face serious consequences. This is not a case of punishing players for the sins of the fans. The abuse and the assaults suffered by black players are now such that in my view it constitutes unfair interference in the game itself. If even managers can be dismissed from the touch line, national associations should be fined, they should be docked points and, in the worst cases, they should be shown the red card and thrown out of every and any European competition. The football pitch can be no place for racism.
Most important of all is the workplace. Yesterday I received a letter from a student who worked in a factory to help pay his way through college. This is what he said: I am white and proud that I study with many colleagues from around the world. I worked with two colleagues, one from South Africa and one from Ghana, who regularly had to put up with white workers coming up to their places and being told in no uncertain terms that they were black and he said you can get the rest including the C word, followed by the abuser saying that they were BNP members and they, the black workers, would be sorted out. This, by the way, came from Essex where the BNP won their eighteenth council seat last week, and we can hear that situation described every day of the year.
The TUC has, I am happy to say, undertaken research on BNP membership in unions. As we have heard, many of you face a determined effort by racists not just to join unions but to take advantage of your facilities and networks to spread their message in the workplace. I know that the law makes it difficult to expel these people. That in my view is wrong. It needs to be changed. No trades unionist should be forced to share his or her membership with racists. The BNP's own website could not be clearer. They say they are only open to those of British or kindred European ethnic descent. How can anyone who joins that party genuinely sign up to the principles of equality and non-discrimination shared by TUC members? They cannot; they cannot do it. They cannot be members of unions that sign up to those principles.
That is why I want to declare my personal backing for the unions such as Gloria's and the Prison Officers Association led by Colin Moses, which have taken the brave step of removing union membership from racists.
Congress, I will promise you that while I am chair of the Commission for Racial Equality we will offer every support legally open to us to drive the BNP out of the trade union Movement. Making this a reality should not just fall to trades unionists. As Colin Moses pointed out, employers have a responsibility too. For many years the far right targetted the prison service. Three years ago the then Director-General said this: membership of racist groups like the BNP, the National Front, Combat 18 on its own are punishable by dismissal and everyone who joins the prison service now has to sign an agreement that they never have been, and never will become, a member of those organisations. These were not empty words. In May 2001 a prison officer who wore a nazi insignia to work was sacked for that reason alone. That, Congress, is what I call leadership. As far as we know, no other major employer has yet followed that lead. Let me issue a challenge to employers today: can you pass the prison service test? If you genuinely want to defeat racism you have the means, and in the CRE, and I hope the TUC, you will find willing partners to ensure that the workplace is no place for racism.
But, of course, overt political racism is not the only challenge to racial equality. It would make life much easier if prejudice and bigotry always came along wearing a badge saying BNP, but it does not. The issues of recruitment, promotion, respect at work are just as important to us as they are to you. That is why we put money from our limited resources into ground breaking employment cases. Since April this year we have already won nearly £800,000 in settlements, but even more importantly these cases will set precedents in attacking what since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry we know as institutional racism. Stephen's death was a tragedy but it gave rise to his family's epic struggle for justice, and that in turn led this government to give all public services a duty to promote racial equality, good race relations and to eliminate discrimination. They gave us, the CRE, the power to enforce that duty. For the first time 43,000 public bodies, including government departments, could face a legal challenge for failing in the area of racial equality. We intend to use this law as rigorously as we can. I want to say that hearing the people who have talked about Bradford has raised in my mind a question on how a council, which has to fulfil a public duty of promoting good race relations, can imagine for one second it is doing that by allowing racists to use publicly funded, publicly owned facilities. That has to be wrong.
But this is not just an issue for the public sector. I know you will discuss public/private partnerships this week. CRE does not have a position on such partnerships in principle. However, today 50 per cent of all construction is paid for by the taxpayer. Most public authorities at some point use private IT contractors. We cannot ignore it. What we say is this. We believe that all public services, whoever provides them, should be subject to race equality duty.
That is why this summer with the support of the TUC, the CBI and the government we launched guides to procurement for public bodies. The principle is simple. If you earn public money, you should adhere to public standards on race equality, as in everything else, and we will expect public authorities to compel you to do so or they themselves may be in breach of their own race equality duty.
President, we look forward to partnership with the TUC on this and other matters. In enforcing the race equality duty we hope that trades unionists will be our eyes and ears, ready to tell us where we need to investigate, able to work with us where we need to encourage, and prepared to stand with us where we need to enforce. In return you can expect us to support your case, that trades union membership is an essential element of a fair and well-run organisation.
There are many other areas we will want to talk about, not least how we work together to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers. Low pay, and poor conditions are harmful to new workers; they undermine existing staff and they are divisive for everyone. We have the law on our side, we have justice and now I hope we have a firm partnership with the TUC.
Coming back to what I said earlier and what people have said this morning, I think the far right have had it all too much their own way, I look forward to our joint fight back.
The President: Thank you very much, Trevor, for that inspiring address. As you know, the TUC has been long committed to fighting racism both in the workplace and in society at large, and we look forward to working closely with Trevor in carrying forward a campaign against racism.
Congress adjourned until 2.15 p.m.
TUESDAY AFTERNOON SESSION
(Congress re-assembled at 2.15 p.m.)
The President: Good afternoon, colleagues. I welcome you back to the afternoons session. I request that you take your seats. Thank you very much. Just before we get on to our business I have a short statement to make.
During his inspiring speech Trevor Phillips mentioned Bradford Councils decision to let the BNP hold a meeting on council property. Bradford Trades Union Council is leading calls to stop this. I am sure Congress will want to give them every support. The General Secretary today has written to Bradford Council telling them that it is completely unacceptable for a public organisation to give facilities funded by the taxpayer to these fascists. (Applause) Thank you, Brendan, for doing that.
The President: Delegates I now move to Chapter 7 of the General Councils Report, page 91, Learning and Skills. I invite the Deputy General Secretary on behalf of the General Council to lead in. I am sure Frances will be known to many of you in the hall for a longstanding commitment to work on equality, skills, and organising. Frances, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that we look forward to continuing to benefit from your energy, drive, and commitment. I now call you to lead on behalf of the General Council.
The Deputy General Secretary leading in on Chapter 7 of the General Councils Report, Learning and Skills, said: : Thank you very much, President. Thank you, delegates. The General Council is recommending support for Composite 19 on Learning and Skills. Every delegate in this hall knows that the number one priority for the trade union Movement is to recruit new members, to grow our membership, and to build a strong organisation. To do that we have to show working people that we understand what they want, that we are relevant to their needs, and that together through that strong organisation we can win.
Todays workers want decent pay and conditions, of course they do, but our collective ambition goes further than that. We want to feel respected, valued, and rewarded, for the skills we already have, and if you will indulge me, President, given it is my first time, I would especially want to mention home care assistants, classroom assistants, and childcare workers. People want opportunities to develop their skills and fulfil their potential. Increasingly, workers want work that is more meaningful, interesting, and satisfying, work that gives people what used to be called 'real pride in the job'. In Britain today no less than one in three workers tell us they get no training at all. If you missed out at school, the chances are that you will miss out at work too. If you are a shift worker, part-time or low-paid, investment in training is unlikely to come your way. Company training budgets, where they exist, are rarely shared fairly. Too often top managers treat them as little more than a glorified personal perk.
This year trade unions have made some major breakthroughs for working people on the learning and skills front. In April, we won new rights to time off for union Learning Reps. I know some of them are in the hall as delegates today. Already there are nearly 7,000 trained union Learning Reps recognised in workplaces up and down the land. They are bringing confidence, expert advice, and practical help to many more thousands of workers. The TUC and unions have launched a growing network of workplace-based learning centres, open not just to workers, not just to our members, but to families and to local communities too. The role of the union Learning Rep is key. For older workers facing redundancies to women returning from maternity leave, it is the Learning Rep that people can turn to. Whether they want to develop high-level professional skills or brush up on basic skills, the Learning Rep is there to help. When employers talk about needing new skills to modernise or to boost productivity, it is the Learning Rep people trust to put their best interests first.
Another important event this year was the publication of the skills strategy White Paper. It creates a government national skills alliance that for the first time gives unions and working people an equal voice alongside employers in planning for the future. The White Paper also guarantees representation for unions at the regional and sector level and it marks a major shift in policy and resources towards those at the sharp end. Those workers who have been denied and excluded from training opportunities must be given the chance to escape that low-skill, low-pay trap because, delegates, the drive to boost productivity and to build a strong economy must go hand-in-hand with the drive for fairness at work and social justice.
The White Paper includes many other initiatives worthy of mention, too. The TUC and unions are strongly committed to making the modern apprenticeship programme a success, to make sure that young people get quality training and the promise of a quality job. We welcome the commitment to developing adult apprenticeships so that older workers who missed out first time round are given a second chance. Earlier this year the Chancellor in his budget speech announced a significant increase in the Union Learning Fund over the coming two years and with even more resources our contribution could be even greater. At last, though, real recognition is being given to the union role and we are rightly proud of the progress that we have made, but the challenge should not be under-estimated. For all the warm words from some employers organisations, the failure of their voluntary approach is all too evident in the sorry neglect of our skills infrastructure. This country still lags far behind others in the productivity stakes. Investment in research and innovation, as well as skills, is still far too low so we will continue to campaign for the right to paid time off for education and training, especially for those with little or no qualifications. But, delegates, we know that individual rights are not the whole answer. When times are tough too often employers choose the low road to productivity, low pay, long hours, and job cuts. Through negotiation and new training agreements unions can signal a different way. We want the Government to promote and underpin our efforts, union efforts, to put training back on the collective bargaining agenda. To coin a phrase, 'Give us the tools and we will finish the job.'
Finally, delegates, let us recognise that unions have taken some big steps forward towards realising the ambition of the life-long learning forum and that is, of course, the celebration. The challenge for us is to maintain the momentum and to keep up the campaign over the coming years. Having seen that firsthand, the enthusiasm, the dedication, and the commitment, of our growing army of workplace union Learning Reps I know we are up to the task. Thank you.
Tony Burke (Graphical, Paper and Media Union) moved Composite Motion 19.
(Insert Composite Motion 19, Learning and Skills)
He said: The Government has now published its White Paper on skills and we welcome the inclusion of social partnership and the proposals for cooperation between the TUC, the CBI, and key government departments. Above all else, the White Paper demonstrates that training and skills are absolutely fundamental to the growth of our economy and our countrys prosperity. It is clear that the Government now sees an involvement of unions as central to this agenda. That is something we have been arguing for, for a long long time. But however genuine the commitment from the Government is to the improvement of productivity through the acquisition of skills, there are still major gaps in the Government strategy. Far too much reliance is placed upon the voluntary system to deliver adequate training for all of our members. We have all witnessed where this approach has led.
I said earlier on in the manufacturing debate, and Frances has just repeated it, that the current strategy leads in the long run to productivity but it is a road that leads to a dead end. The White Paper makes it clear that the role of union Learning Reps is key to the delivery of the Governments objective on skills yet the Government still refuses workers a legal right to a collective voice at work on the issue of training, despite all of our arguments to include training as a negotiating issue in the CAC default scheme for union recognition. The White Paper also contains provisions where the industry agrees a statutory training levy can be introduced but it is no good asking employers to support a system that will compel them to pay for the training they oppose in the first place. That is why where employers fail to deliver those skills the Government must introduce legislation to provide for a statutory training levy.
Congress, according to the latest research, companies are now cutting back on their training budgets at a time when they can ill afford to. This is a short-sighted approach and only serves to damage the UK competitiveness, and can only lead to an already bad situation getting much much worse. Congress, we welcome the introduction of the skills alliance, a body to oversee the development of skills. We also welcome the proposed sector skills agreements between unions and employers to address the specific skill needs of each sector, but the White Paper says it will be for employers to determine whether an agreement for collaborative action should be pursued. Once again, the Government has decided to leave the involvement of trade unions entirely at the discretion of employers, maintaining a voluntary system that has failed this country so miserably. This is illustrated by the commitment of the Government to offer tuition for adults to achieve Level 2 qualifications without any accompanying right to paid time off.
While there are clearly some positive aspects of the Governments plans, the Government, we believe, has missed a huge opportunity to tackle radically the skills shortages and the low levels of investment in training within UK companies. We have to press the Government to establish a strengthened statutory framework that must include trade unions as genuine social partners, adequate resources to fund the strategy, and address the serious under-funding in our colleges.
Overall, the Government strategy lends too much credibility to an already discredited system, a system that has led the UK productivity spiralling downwards, seen jobs go abroad, and a system that has created a low-paid, low-skilled workforce and a crumbling training infrastructure. This misguided faith in employers has failed. It has failed workers in this country for far too long. Congress, if we really mean what we say, that we want a highly skilled workforce, if we want and really want a high productive workforce, and if the Government and the CBI really want the UK to be competitive, then it is now time for a change. It is time for a change of direction and we have to ensure that we force and press the Government to do this. Support the composite, support better training, support better skills, for all of our members and our future.
Mr. President, I move.
Maureen OMara (NATFHE) in seconding the composite, said: There is much to welcome in the Governments skills strategy proposals and these are included in the motion. However, I am not going to reiterate these but concentrate on three areas of particular concern. The first area concerns the composition and democratic deficit of the Learning and Skills Council. We in NATFHE have received reports that on some Learning and Skills Councils a retiring trade union representative is not being replaced with another trade union representative, and worse, in at least one case an employer has occupied the seat, this when employers occupy 40 per cent of these seats by right. There is also a deficit of education and training practitioners on these bodies. The result is that those who deliver learning programmes do not inform decisions made. Congress must both actively inform trade unions, in particular those whose members are deliverers of education and training, where these vacancies exist and facilitate dialogue between trade unions to enable informed decision-making.
The second area of concern is the focus on employer needs in training. We all know that most employers have at best only a vague notion of the needs of training. Bizarrely, the training skills need of the employee is rarely focused on, the employability needs of you and I. If the Government want a social partnership to improve skills, then they must value the sterling work of some 6,500 Learning Reps and incorporate training into the statutory list of collective bargaining items, and an entitlement for every worker to paid time to learn. Lastly is the reliance on employers voluntary engagement with training. We are constantly told that compared to OECD countries our level of skills and training, and productivity, is poor. What is the response to this, Digby? It is pressure on us to work longer and longer hours and insistence to opt out of the 48-hour limit in Working Time Agreements. In terms of training, the resistance and tactics used to prevent workers engaging in training is breathtaking. I have students where, even when the employer gives tacit support to them attending college in their own time, the employer insists they work extra shifts to cover absences or work overtime to meet deadlines. This results in them feeling obliged to discontinue their studies. If employers really are drinking at the last chance salon, then the Government must be prepared to call last orders soon. I second the motion. Thank you.
Rory Murphy (UNIFI) speaking in support of Composite 19, said: I am speaking in support of Composite 19, particularly comments concerning financial literacy, which is in the last two paragraphs of this long composite. Congress, you have already heard this morning of the challenge to manufacturing but there is another challenge that this country has to face, that is to recruit all of our citizens to be able to manage their own finances in an age that is radically different from the post-War welfare settlement. In the 21st century we have to make more financial decisions than ever before. There is more competition in the finance industry than ever before and more information but also more confusion than ever before. The scale of the challenge will not be lost on our members. It is disastrous that only 40 per cent of children are attaining A to C in GCSE maths and that one in four adults have difficulty calculating change on the weekly grocery shopping trip.
The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux estimates that poor financial education costs customers (our members) £12 billion annually. Compare that to the £10 billion spent on transport in this country in 2002. The debt on our doorstep campaign estimates that there are 6 million people in this country in extremely serious debt. We are encouraged to make private choices about our pension arrangements, about our long-term savings, about loans, investments, and mortgages, yet in the finance industry we know that the language can be perplexing. What is nought per cent per annum interest? What is a 14.9 per cent APR variable rate? Many of our members fall prey to the unscrupulous loan sharks and have no idea what compound interest they are paying or what that means.
Some of these challenges are indeed now entering our workplace. There are estimates and predictions around that within the next ten years a quarter of all consumer sales could be made from within the workplace. It is at the workplace that we come in. The trade union Movement, as we know, supports our members in a number of important areas that already depend on financial literacy, pay, pensions, and redundancies. We have a unique bond of trust with our members, and non members, which will enable us to communicate information, advice, guidance, and recruitment for literacy and numeracy programmes. Our workplace representatives are in touch with the learning and financial needs of workers. Some trade unions have already been in partnership with financial education programmes in the workplace but more are needed.
These assets can make the unions an invaluable partner in the campaign to promote financial literacy and education that is led by the Financial Services Authority. Not many people know what the FSA is about but downstairs on stall 19 you can go and see them and badger them to help you raise programmes in your workplace. I can tell you from discussions that UNIFI have had with the FSA that the trade union Movement will be very welcome to join in that campaign.
Congress, I urge you to support the composite and to support the campaign for financial literacy and education for all working people.
Peter Pendle (Association for College Management) speaking in support of the composite, said: At Congress last year, ACM seconded a composite motion on skills training and we are delighted with the White Paper. We acknowledge the Governments commitment demonstrated through the abolition of fees and the introduction of grants to expanding education entitlement, and the opportunity for adults with no or few qualifications. But think how little interest the general media has shown in these policies and contrast that with the barrage of antagonistic front-page media coverage the Government comes in for about its policies on higher education fees. The reason for this is that there is negligible political kudos to be gained from these policies. In our view their adoption reflects the Governments genuine commitment to improve opportunities for these groups of people.
However, the workplace is a significant context for learning and in order to make these policies work the Government must set limits to the voluntarism in respect of employers responsibilities for the development of their workforce. We call on the Government to set clear time limits for the voluntary participation of the employers. After that compulsory measures should be introduced that require all employers to deliver their training obligations to the workforce. On the skills strategy ACM especially welcomes the entitlement to a Level 2 qualification for all adults. ACM has long campaigned on this issue. Its motion to this Congress last year was carried overwhelmingly.
We also warmly welcome the creation of opportunities for young adults to gain Level 3 qualifications in skills shortage areas and the piloting of an adult education maintenance grant. However, we must go further and press the Government for more radical measures. In addition to the limits on employer voluntarism it is vital for the success of these proposals that the new strategy brings significant additional resources to enable colleges and other providers to develop and deliver education and training to world-class industry standards.
Whilst we welcome recognition of the value of adult learning programmes that offer personal learning development and fulfilment, there is no commitment of resources or clear targets associated with these proposals. We are concerned that this aspect of the policy should not turn out to be more lip service to a worthy ideal. That ideal will only be delivered if specific policies and resources are dedicated to making it happen. A lot of progress has been made since I seconded the motion last year. However, we have only made a start. Please support this composite.
Marge Carey (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) speaking in support of the composite, said: President, Congress, as previous speakers have said, we have made a lot of progress on the skills and development training but there clearly is a long way to go. To everybodys credit, ours, the Government, and at least some employers, we have begun at last to make learning accessible not just for the privileged few who historically have been the ones to receive training but for the thousands of workers who have been excluded for generations, people desperately in need of basic skills training, the people the system forgot or excluded, or left behind.
To their credit, the Government and the Union Learning Fund have really helped to repair that damage. The Union Learning Fund does work. At least 7,000 USDAW members alone can testify to that, but it is hard work. We have a job to do even to protect it. However, left to their own devices many employers tend to focus and look at the bottom line, and the immediate pay-off. Whether it is conventional vocational training or developing workers confidence and the capacity to learn through basic skills training, to some employers it is about the bottom line and competitive advantage. Congress, it is an attitude that has plagued our education and training system for decades. It means that the availability and the affordability of appropriate training and development are always under threat.
Our response is well developed. Delegates, whether it is tax breaks for employers committed to learning and development or statutory levies wherever necessary, we believe the market cannot be left to its own backward devices. There is a role for us here as well as for our people, too, as negotiators, as activists, and as reps with the right to consult on training and development plans in their own workplaces. There is an opportunity as of right not just to raise awareness and to focus the minds and the prejudices of employers but to recruit and organise around the training and development agenda amongst our own members. In our experience, our members are often hungry, very hungry, for training and development opportunities of all kinds, whether it is IT skills, basic skills, or languages, whether it is making up for lost time, extending career opportunities, or improving their quality of life. There is a real demand out there and a guaranteed role for us in our workplaces, which will help us meet that demand and help build a decent national skills strategy for the first time ever in this country. Please support Composite 19.
Sue Ferns (Prospect) speaking in support of Composite 19, said: Our contribution to this motion addresses two specific issues. First, while we understand and agree that priorities should be given to improving opportunities for the people with low skills, it is also the case that workers with high skill levels need to develop new and often broader skills to ensure their employability. A high level of qualification does not confer immunity from job losses. There are many examples of Prospect members with highly specialised skills losing their jobs and finding it difficult to demonstrate a broader skills base that is attractive to a different employer. Only last week, for example, large numbers of highly skilled horticultural scientists received their redundancy notices from Government. Some will find alternative employment but others, particularly those who have made their homes in rural areas with no comparable local employer will find it very difficult to do so. In addition, as the White Paper points out, there is a general need in the UK to improve management and leadership skills; specialists certainly find their career paths blocked without such skills. Science, engineering, and technology, is a particular longstanding problem area as the White Paper recognises. There are difficulties both in attracting people into this area of employment and in keeping those who are already in it. This is partly to do with the poor image and poor family-friendly employment practices in some SET areas.
Prospect believes that Government should give priority to establishing the R&D employers forum recommended by Sir Gareth Roberts in his report, Set for Success, to support and monitor employers responses to the challenge of improving the pay, career structures, and working experiences for scientists and engineers in R&D; also the formation of the independent implementation group recommended by Baroness Greenfield in her report, Set Fair, to oversee progress on the new strategy for women in science, engineering, and technology. There should be union representation on both those bodies.
Our second issue relates to Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) and the Skills for Business Network that we believe will have a key role to play in taking forward the skills strategy. The Government support for trade union representation on all SSCs is very welcome but at the same time it poses a challenge to the TUC to make the most of this opportunity. We believe that the General Council needs to ensure a balance of union representation across the Skills for Business Network and also to develop effective communication channels between union SSC members and other unions with an interest in their sector, so that those not directly represented can feed through their priorities and concerns to the union SSC board members.
In taking forward this motion these practical and organisational issues must be given the priority they deserve. Please support the motion.
Danny Carrigan (AMICUS) speaking in support of Composite 19, said: Colleagues, Amicus fully support this composite and as a skilled and technical union we take a close interest in skills and training. I particularly want to welcome the work that the General Council and the TUC officers, Frances OGrady in particular, have put into this issue. We believe this is fully covered in the General Council Report and would commend that to Congress. Colleagues, I also want to acknowledge, if I can, the commitment of the Government, and the Treasury in particular, to this subject. In fairness, there is no doubt that the Government is prepared to devote finance and support to the skills agenda. Of course, they, like us in the TUC and the trade union Movement, recognise that skills training and the lifelong learning agenda are key drivers towards increasing productivity but will never close the gap with our competitive nations unless employers invest in training. Of course, skills and training are not just about productivity, they also go to the heart of what we are concerned about, our social justice and social inclusion agenda. Clearly, training and skills enhancement leads to improvement in income and job satisfaction, which in turn should lead to improvements in status, dignity, and feelings of well-being.
Colleagues, I recognise that skills and training is at the heart of the Governments productivity and welfare to work agenda. I think we should acknowledge that it has done much but, to use a cliché, there is still much to be done, as Tony Burke, the mover of the motion, and others have previously argued in this debate. For example, the Government could do a lot more to encourage an expansion in modern apprenticeships. I do not believe that there are enough incentives, for example, to encourage employers to take on adult apprentices and I do welcome the clause in the composite that talks about removing the age cap for adult apprentices. I also think the Government could do a lot more in the construction industry. It needs to reduce self-employment, lump labour, as it is commonly known, which militates against the intake of apprentices and at the same time encourages a high dropout rate of apprentices who are in the industry. Of course, as an engineering union, in our view, the Government must do a lot to help manufacturing, and the engineering industry, in particular, which used to provide many many thousands of opportunities for apprenticeships in the past. The engineering industry is not dead yet but it does need support and revitalising, and it has to appeal to the young and old as an attractive career path in the future.
Colleagues, Amicus commends the composite. It applauds the work of the General Council and Frances OGrady, and it acknowledges the commitment of the Government but let us help the apprentices as well as the socially-excluded, and let us talk up the engineering industry as well as the computer and IT industry. Amicus supports. Thank you.
Annette Place (UNISON) in supporting Composite 19, said: Congress, Unison welcomes the White Paper. However, as others have said, we are also disappointed that the Government did not feel able to go further in ensuring that we have a real and meaningful skills strategy. Earlier this year Unison commissioned a report entitled, Learning for Life, Learning for Everyone, as our submission to the consultation that preceded the White Paper. This detailed report analyses why Britain has failed to match the levels of skills and productivity achieved in other countries and argues that every adult should have the right to lifelong learning. It proposed a workforce investment act that would create a statutory framework for employers, trade unions, and workers, to share responsibility, including protected time for learning for those in particular need. One of the areas that I particularly wanted to highlight in coming up today is that this is really an equalities issue as much as anything else.
It is very clear that there are glaring and persisting inequalities in the provision of skills training. Women are over-represented amongst those with few or no qualifications and are significantly under-represented at Level 3. Older workers are disproportionately represented amongst those with few or no qualifications. More than 30 per cent of admin, secretarial, skilled trades, and personal service workers, are qualified at Level 1 or below. Minority ethnic workers, particularly those of Bangladeshi and Afro-Caribbean origin, are more likely to have fewer or no qualifications than white people.
It has suited some people to attempt to explain the poor distribution of workplace learning opportunities as the fault of poor motivation amongst employees, ironically particularly those with a low level of skills. Whilst we accept that for a small minority of these people very little would encourage them back into learning, for the vast majority other issues act as a far greater barrier -- access to time off, course costs, inflexible shift patterns, lack of family-friendly employment, and managerial support. It is noticeable that despite the strong case made by many unions, including us, there is no provision made for a statutory right to paid time off for learning. Other people have covered that point.
Unison can congratulate much of what is proposed in the White Paper but it is not a radical step change in tackling our skills shortages. This is progress but we should continue to seek reforms that will really mark a revolution in addressing the countrys skills needs.
The other point I wanted to address is the representation on Learning and Skills Councils. We would like to add to the points made in the motion that as advocates for and major players in the now accepted education team Unison should also be considered as essential players in Learning and Skills Councils. The proposals contained in our submission are based on our own experiences of providing education and on the needs and expectations of our members. It is not a fanciful wish list but a realistic set of policy proposals that we believe are necessary. We would urge the TUC to use the newly created bodies and our relationship with Government to continue to lobby for these policies. Thank you. Please support.
Hugh Lanning (Public and Commercial Services Union) representing over 3,000 staff working in the LSC, RDA, Local Skills Councils and the DFBS with responsibility for delivering the skills strategy and speaking in support of the composite, said: I want to make three relatively brief points about an historical wrong that needs to be put right on the vexed question of resources and, finally, on the Governments attitude as an employer to the trade union involvement and the trade union process.
First, many years ago there used to be a thing called the MSC, Manpower Services Commission, an innovative tripartite organisation subsequently abolished by the Tories. We had members in skills centres, skilled trainers with engineering and manufacturing backgrounds committed to training the next generation. Obviously, they were privatised. Some were sold to an organisation called Astra and just as inevitably, Astra went bust. With no legal or political protection, members lost their pension and redundancy rights. At our recent conference, the branch that still represents these members movingly told of their ten-year campaign to have their rights restored. Just as with GCHQ, it would be a demonstration of good faith to address this issue and put right this wrong.
Secondly, resources: PCS broadly welcomes the skills strategy White Paper. It could be a major step to galvanised learning but not without resources to make it happen. The LSC is currently shedding some 800 posts. In the DFES there is a paucity of running costs to deliver the programmes that it continued to expand and proliferate. Proper delivery will not happen unless the lead departments and organisations are resourced. It is wishes in the end, without providing the means, which could stifle a positive initiative.
Finally, the Government is a major employer and is in a position to influence many others through its own actions and contracts. There used to be a notion of the Civil Service as an exemplar with a set of standards and good practice, yet there are currently no proposals for a central government sector skills agency, no additional resources for departments to fund their workforce development plans, and although there is much talk of trade union roles and working in partnership, this is often a theory preached to others but not practised in their own backyard with their own employees, with many of the vestiges of Tory management philosophy remaining.
Whilst we recently won recognition in the LSC, many local bodies are hostile to working with trade unions. A national skills strategy should not be a cheapskate approach to learning. It should not reinforce an educational apartheid where vocational qualifications are seen as inferior to academic ones. We have as a union sought to pick up and run with the learning agenda but we cannot do it alone, nor can the Government. It might be awkward to be sensible but it is wrong to play politics with your staffs future just to score political brownie points. Working together, the skills agenda is deliverable. Please support the motion.
The President: Thank you very much indeed, Kevin. I have no more speakers. I assume, Tony, you do not want to exercise your right of reply? (No reply) Thank you very much. I will move straightaway to the vote.
* Composite Motion 19 was CARRIED..
Brian Harrison-Jennings (Association of Educational Psychologists) moved the following motion:
(Insert Motion 91, The Training of Educational Psychologists)
He said: President, Congress, when I came to think what I might say to Congress in proposing this motion I was put in mind of a short clip from a Woody Allen film, although for the life of me I have to admit I cannot remember which one. In the film Woody Allen is entertaining his girlfriend to a meal in a swish New York restaurant when she starts to complain. 'Oh, I hate this place,' says the girlfriend, 'the waiters are so rude.' 'I agree,' says Woody Allen, tucking into his meal with great gusto. 'Oh,' she said, 'and the place it is so dirty. It has never been painted in years.' 'Oh, yes, dear, you are so right. It is filthy', says Woody Allen still devouring his meal. 'And as for the food,' says the girlfriend, 'it is disgusting. I would not give it to the dog.' Continuing to eat lustily Woody Allen says, 'Oh, you are absolutely right, dear, the food is appalling and such small portions too.'
That is exactly how I see the relationship between educational psychologists and the schools, the heads, the SENCOs, the teachers, etc. that they serve. In a nutshell, I guess it is a bit of a love-hate relationship. Sometimes there is a little bit more and sometimes a little bit less but, and here is the point of this story, however well or ill the school thinks of their educational psychologist I have never, not once, not in 30 years in the profession, ever heard of a headteacher, a SENCO, or a classroom teacher, say that they have enough educational psychologists time and that they would happily cope with a little bit less.
Like Woody Allen, however good, or the reverse, the school thinks that their educational psychologist is they always, always, want a little bit more. Educational psychologists would like to give it, that is, they would like to be able to give it. A staffing survey conducted by ourselves in December last year showed that over the whole of England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, and on one hundred per cent return rate to our questionnaire, there is a 20 per cent shortfall of educational psychologists against established posts. I should like to see how the head of a school, primary or secondary, would cope with a 20 per cent staff absent rate, day in day out, for months on end. I bet the class teachers would pretty soon get fed up with losing free periods and preparation time to cover for absent colleagues. That is how it has been for educational psychologists, to my certain knowledge, for the last 10 to 15 years. So, as they say, have I got news for you.
Educational psychologists like that situation no better than anyone else. Indeed, as they take the brunt of the criticism for the situation that they can do absolutely nothing about, they probably like it less than anyone else. However, although it will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better, changes to the training of educational psychologists, too complicated in detail to go into here, means that it may start to get better towards the end of this decade but certainly not before. We, by and large, welcome these changes but we have four major reservations spelled out in the numbered points of our motion. I will just take the first one, which will affect teachers greatly. Our first one is that teachers undertaking the final years training as an educational psychologist at present can expect to take anything from a reduction in salary of £2,000 to £10,000 and under the present proposals you can add at least another £5,000 to both of those figures. They look like being £7,000 to £15,000 worse off for three years, not just one, during their training. That will be a big incentive to many teachers to train, I am sure. That is why, colleagues, I ask you to support this motion from the Association of Educational Psychologists. Thank you.
(The Motion was formally seconded by PCS)
The President: Delegates, you might have noticed the arrival on the platform of the
Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gordon, I welcome you to Congress today. In a moment or two, after we have taken the vote, I will be saying a few more words of appreciation when I invite you to address the Congress.
The motion having been seconded - I do not think there is any need to exercise a right of reply - I will put it to the vote.
* The motion was CARRIED.
Address by the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The President: Colleagues, it now gives me great pleasure to introduce somebody who really needs no introduction, the Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer. (Applause)
Gordon has been MP for Dunfirmline East since 1983 and Chancellor since 1997. He has presided over a period of unprecedented economic stability, low unemployment and low inflation. These are major achievements -- I hope I am not anticipating too much of your speech, Gordon. - achievements that have eluded most Labour Governments in the past and consistent with Gordons mantra of prudence with a purpose. These are the foundations of the most sustained increase in public investment in 30 years.
Of course, Gordon, you know that we have real concerns over the loss of manufacturing jobs, too little workforce involvement and an inequitable distribution to the most needy in our society. There is clearly a need to widen and deepen the dialogue between the Government, unions, employers and workers. Your presence here today is an important and welcome contribution to that dialogue.
Gordon, you are very welcome to Congress today, and we will be watching very closely to see whether you have brought prudence with you. I have great pleasure in inviting you to address Congress.
Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP (Chancellor of the Exchequer): Nigel, in thanking you for your invitation, let me, first of all, on behalf of the Government and the Labour Party, join the congratulations to Brendan Barber at his first Congress as General Secretary of the TUC. Let me congratulate him, in particular, on securing 96% of the vote when he was elected General Secretary. Let me also congratulate Frances OGrady, the first woman Deputy General Secretary after 100 years or more of the Trades Union Congress, and let me congratulate Kay Carberry on becoming Assistant General Secretary. (Applause)
Before I start my remarks, I want to thank all of those who have served the General Council and who are now leaving the General Council. I want to thank them for all the work that they have done. Let me thank in particular a former President, the General Secretary of my own union, Bill Morris, whose reputation for fighting for workers rights internationally as well as nationally is well known, and who has fought discrimination and racism wherever it has raised its head. As I know that he will agree with me, the best we can do to honour your contribution is that we continue to work together to isolate and remove every British National Party councillor in every part of the country from any local seat they temporarily hold. (Applause)
For more than a century this labour Movement has led in fighting fascism, fighting the evil of apartheid, fighting for debt relief and fighting for trade justice. I believe it is a tribute to the internationalism of the British labour Movement, an attribute of this movement of which we should be proud, that John Monks has been appointed the General Secretary of the European TUC. For his internationalism and for his leadership of the TUC over more than 10 years, I would like to add my thanks to John Monks and wish him well as he becomes General Secretary, a great European he is, of the European TUC.
Friends, I want to start with my report of the economic situation. I can tell you that despite the world situation, we have in the past few months continued to create new jobs. I can tell Congress that not all of these new jobs are new employees at Chelsea Football Club. Over the summer we have seen higher investment and higher consumer spending and not all of it is money spent by Roman Abramovich. We have always said, Congress, that resources should be matched by results. I do not know what Digby Jones would say about value for money from a businessman who spends £100 million and still loses to Lazio and can only manage a draw with Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. We all know, friends, that if we succeed not even tens of millions of pounds, a new chief executive and a dozen new players, including a few new right wingers, could ever revive Mr. Duncan Smiths Conservative Party.
We meet here in Brighton at a time when Germany is in recession, Italy is in recession, the Netherlands is in recession. Half of Europe is currently in recession. In the last year France has experienced two quarters of negative growth. Growth in the euro area has gone into reverse. Not only has that happened, but Japan has been in recession, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are in recession, and, as you know, America has just come out of recession.
So because three quarters of our trade is with countries experiencing difficulties, the British economy has been under pressure, too. So I want to thank you, the trade union Movement, for your support in the difficult long term decisions we took - the Bank of England independence, cutting debt, tough fiscal rules, the new deal we created together, and that has ensured that here in Britain, despite the sharpest slowdown in world output growth for nearly 30 years and the unprecedented number of global, financial, military and other risks and uncertainties, our country - Britain - the country that you and I know has in the past been first in and last out of world recessions, the country that in the last 20 years suffered two of the worst recessions since the war - has not only averted recession and in quarter after quarter, year after year, since 1997, has continued to grow, but we now can say that we have had the longest period of continued and sustained recession free growth for fifty years.
In the last three years it is because Britain and America have together pursued pro-active, pro-growth, monetary and fiscal policies, because we have aggressively cut interests rates - by nine times in Britain and 13 times in America - and, as you have argued for, we have had a counter cyclical policy that we have not made the mistakes of the conservatives who, by their policies that include cutting public spending, would even now put Britain into recession.
So despite continuing global difficulties, Britain is today on track for stronger growth with low inflation, and we will not yield to any inflationary pressures, any unaffordable demands or any short term quick fixes or soft options that would risk or squander the huge economic opportunities that this new won and hard won stabilities gives to us, the British people.
At the start of my period, first of all, as Shadow Chancellor, eleven years ago when I started in 1992, I promised the labour movement that if we made the right difficult long term decisions, we would be the first Labour Government that, instead of the old stop-go and boom-bust, managed to entrench low inflation and economic stability and at the same time be able to combine that with rising investment in our public services and policies for social justice.
I can report to you now that after six years of government under Tony Blairs strong leadership because of your support inflation is half what it was under the conservatives and averaged our target of 2.5 per cent, we have the lowest inflation for 30 years and at the same time we have managed the fastest improvements in spending on health and education that we have seen since the war.
Eleven years ago, when I became Shadow Chancellor, I also said that by making the right long term decisions, we could combine economic stability with social justice by delivering both low interest rates for homeowners, manufacturing and business generally, and we could cut child and pensioner poverty. We now have the lowest interest rates this country has seen for fifty years, since 1955, and there are now 1 million taken out of poverty.
In 1992 I also promised that after a hundred years of campaigning a Labour Government would deliver a legal national minimum wage. And we have today not only a legal national minimum wage but new rights to paid holidays, the right to time off when your children are sick, the right to be a member of a trade union, legislated for the first-time, new rights against unfair dismissal and rights for part-time workers equivalent to full-time workers.
I want to tell you today that the minimum wage will not only, rightly, rise next month to £4.50 per hour; and as the Low Pay Commission has recommended, subject to economic conditions, to £4.85 next year and then it will rise above £5 for every hour worked. I believe that our success in delivering a minimum wage is not only a tribute to Tony Blairs premiership but also a tribute to the work of the late John Smith who told this Congress meeting ten years ago that the minimum wage would be one of the first acts, as it was, of a Labour Government. (Applause)
Let me just add one thing. Soon we will be able to report also on other unfinished business: our investigation into achieving, for the first time, for 16 and 17 year olds, new rights at work, too. And because poverty in work is wrong and unacceptable, I want us together to tell Britain that with the new tax credits we have introduced, a couple with two children where one works receives not £4.20 an hour but, as a result of the tax credits, is guaranteed £8.00 per hour. A loan parent working part-time receives, because of the tax credits, not £4.20 an hour but £12.00 an hour. I reiterate Tony Blairs pledge that with the tax credits that we are introducing, particularly the Child Tax Credit, our aim is that Britain, one of the worst industrialised countries for child poverty in 1997, will end child poverty in our generation so that no child born in our country should be left out or left behind.
It is this same strength to take the tough, long-term decisions and to hold true to our ideals that lies behind our determination to eradicate unemployment. Let us be clear.
In the last three years America has lost 3 million jobs; Japan has lost nearly 1.5 million jobs; Germany has lost 1.4 million jobs, but because of the policies that we have agreed together, and then we pursued together, including the difficult obligations and responsibilities of the New Deal, and despite the difficulties which concern me deeply in manufacturing and exports, the total number of addition jobs that we have created together since 1997 is one million, six hundred thousand.
Why have we been able to keep each and every one of these economic promises for stability and employment? It is because, friends, we have had the strength too take the long-term decisions and not to be diverted by the short-term; it is because we have had the courage to hold true to, and not be distracted from, our long-term ideals for Britain. It is because we rejected the Tory short-termist free for alls; it is because we set aside the Tory take-what-you-can irresponsibility - and we will never shirk from that resolve; it is because we put faith in labour values of economic responsibility and refused to yield to vested interests; it is because we insisted on building from solid foundations, looking to the long-term, that, while we will never be complacent and never rest in our efforts to create jobs.
I can tell you that Britain now has the lowest unemployment since 1976; the lowest female unemployment since 1975; the lowest male unemployment since 1974; there are more lone parents in employment now than at any time in our national history; where there used to be 350,000 young people long-term unemployed, there are now less than 5,000; we now have lower unemployment than Germany, France, America and Japan and more people are in work today than at any time in the history of our country.
Remember that claim of Michael Howard, the Employment Minister at the time of the ERM fiasco and then Shadow Chancellor. He said the minimum wage would cost Britain a million jobs. Let me tell you this. We have a minimum wage and we have not lost a million jobs. We have created more than a million jobs.
Remember his claims that the social chapter would make unemployment higher than any other major industrial country. Friends, by the way we have done tings, we have in these six years together secured lower unemployment than any other major industrial country.
Let me be clear also that we have increased jobs not just with thousands more in the private sector, but in the teeth of conservative opposition we have done so in our public services and we are tackling decades of chronic under-staffing in our health and social services, in our schools and colleagues, in the caring services of this country.
When our opponents claim that these new jobs - the jobs of nurses, doctors, teachers, home helps, nursery helpers, care assistants and orderlies - are just thousands more bureaucrats, and seek to denigrate good public servants or suggest that these are, somehow, second rate jobs, let us tell Britain that yes, we must have value for money and we will not tolerate waste, but the thousands more we are now employing in the public services are not pen pushers doing nothing as the Tories claim, but they are the 50,000 more nurses caring for the sick and implementing the Agenda for Change; the 10,000 more doctors and consultants saving lives; the 25,000 more teachers educating our young; the 88,000 more teaching assistants implementing the new Partnership for Change; the 7,000 more policemen and women protecting our streets, and what the tories call 'ancillary workers', our cleaners, caterers, porters, orderlies, clerks and care assistants. I call them the men and women whose care and dedication and compassion keep our schools, our Health Service and our caring services running. They keep our public transport moving and they not only ensure that our public services serve the public but they are making our cities, towns and neighbourhoods real communities again.
We have achieved this by having the strength again to take the long-term decisions. I was always grateful to the directors of the privatised utilities for the £5 billion that they paid in the Windfall Tax to pay for our employment programme, and we put the case for 1 pence on National Insurance to pay for our National Health Service and decent public services. We have had the courage to hold true to a long-term vision where in Britain there are public services that are not subject to payment and charging but they are free at the point of need.
We will not rest or slow our efforts until we have ensured a Great Britain of greater opportunities and greater security not just for some but for all. Because it is wrong that people should be sacked by text messages - sacked without information, explanation or consultation - it is right that Britain signs up to the Information and Consultation Directive. It is right that we have the joint framework agreed by the TUC and CBI, and we are determined to work with you and with business to make it succeed. It is wrong that equal pay has for too long remained a promise that has not been delivered to millions of women in this country. We want to work with you so that the unacceptable delays that prevent equal pay claims even being heard for years are dealt with so that we can secure justice now for womens pay.
Because we will not accept a situation where, just because a firm goes out of business, workers can find that a pension they have saved in for all their life is worth next to nothing, I can tell you that we will set up a new statutory Pensions Protection Fund. This fund will take over the schemes of insolvent companies to ensure that for future pensioners, pensions in payment are protected and that those still working can be sure of getting at least 90% of what they were promised, for the firs time guaranteeing in this country, pension protection on a statutory basis if a company scheme goes bust. (Applause)
For men and women who have served the country all their lives and deserve dignity in retirement, let me also tell you that under the new pension credit from next month, pensioner couples in this country will receive as much as £19.50 in many cases extra each week, and this is the biggest single rise in the government pensions provision ever. It is rewarding, not penalising, the small occupational pensions and savings of millions of OAPs. As we honour on his 90th birthday decades of work by someone who never retired, our friend Jack Jones, I commit this Government to securing an end, once and for all, to pension poverty in this country.
Because no one should see their health or safety recklessly put at risk in the workplace either. We support the freedom from fear campaign. We will ensure greater protection for people in workplaces from factories to hospitals and shops, remembering that safety at work is, as it should be, the mark of a civilised society.
As we use the expertise not just of the public sector but of private firms, expertise that is making possible the biggest construction programme for hospitals, schools and transport in our history, we will continue to tackle the two tierism that you have identified in the labour force, and we are ready to discuss directly with union members at the front line the way forward as we seek what we want to see, which is justice for every employee.
Friends, economic progress and social justice together, and we have even greater more dramatic challenges to meet in the years ahead. We have to meet and to master the huge competitive challenges that globalisation brings. We must have the same strength we have had in the past to take together the tough long-term decisions, and we must have the same courage in the teeth of opposition and testing times to hold true to what are our long-term ideals.
Because the global economy can be managed well or badly, because globalisation can bring social justice or economic exclusion, my goal, the Labour Partys goal, is that Britain can lead in this new global era. We can become the first economy to combine a full employment enterprise economy with a fair society founded on free public services based on need and not on ability to pay.
I want us to be able to demonstrate that even in this highly competitive global economy Britain can combine modern industrial strength and can remove child and pensioner poverty. I want us to lead showing that even in the fast moving global changes that are taking place, Britain can, at the same time, secure economic efficiency and a free and modernised Health Service - yes, with modernised, reformed hospitals where there is tough inspection and extra freedoms for high performers, but a National Health Service that is free at the point of need and for all the British people is the best insurance policy in the world.
I want us to lead, for it matters not just to Britain but to developing countries. They know that without free education and free health care millions are condemned to poverty in their own lands, and so we want to show that in a global economy, countries of strength and of vision can ensure that enterprise and social justice advance together.
I am proposing today to you that we agree to work together - British workforces, British managers and the British Government - so that building on the 1.6 million jobs we have already created, we can fully restore the 1944 objectives of high and stable levels of growth and employment, and even while unemployment has risen in other countries, we can create in this country not just full employment for one year but full employment on a sustained basis, not just in one region of the country but in every region and nation of this great country.
To achieve full employment and to fund our public services there is not only no escape from demanding efficiency, enterprise and value for money, but we must have the discipline to work together, to address, tackle and then to overcome the old British problems of under-investment, low productivity, inflexibility, inadequate skills, poor management, poor levels of enterprise, sometimes of industrial relations, restrictive practices wherever they exist, and we should use this time of opportunity that our new found stability has given us to remove all the barriers to productivity, enterprise and full employment in this country.
So I want to spell out to you the gains to us as a labour Movement and the possibilities - yes, duties - that we will have to discuss and discharge together.
I can tell you that we accept our responsibilities as a Labour Government. We will have the strength to take the long-term decisions, not just to entrench economic stability but, with a pro industry and pro enterprise policy, to build modern manufacturing and industrial strength.
I can tell you now that in my Pre Budget Report and then in the forthcoming Budget next year, I accept the responsibility to do everything I can to ensure that it is Britain, the first great manufacturing and industrial power, that can lead again in the global economy with, intend of the old short-termism that you were discussing this morning, the best support, as Patricia Hewitt and Charles Clarke have said, for innovation, for science and R&D, for manufacturing and industry, so that we can create new jobs and new opportunities for manufacturing and business here in Britain.
It is my responsibility also to ensure that it is Britain that leads in the global economy that, instead of small firms overcharged when they borrow and are hit by late payments, the best encouragement is there, such as reforms in Capital Gains Tax, for enterprise, entrepreneurs and the small businesses that will, in future, employ the largest number of additional workers.
To ensure that it is Britain that is building the best employment service in the world, we say to the unemployed, when Andrew Smith and I demand not just the unemployed but to take some of the 600,000 vacancies on offer, we will do everything we can as a government with training, advice, information, help with transport, equipment and the new tax credits, to be on the side of workers taking up jobs.
And to ensure that it is Britain in the global economy, that instead of regionally unbalanced economic growth and inadequate transport infrastructure, that we can lead again with, as John Prescott and Alistair Darling propose - Regional Development Agencies offering the best regional incentives, transport, investment and support for manufacturing and industry.
So, yes, the answer to the questions this morning about manufacturing is that, as we have seen with the shipbuilding industry winning the new aircraft carrier orders, it is possible for us to work together to invest, create and build for Britain modern manufacturing strength.
With our policy of leading in Europe, we will show, as Tony Blair and Jack Straw have said today, Britains national interest, with half our trade with Europe, is best advanced as active partners in Europe. We will demonstrate the benefits of the euro if we can achieve sustainable and durable convergence with the euro area; and we will take on anti-European prejudice and myths to show that we can unite Britain around a pro-European consensus. Just as internationally we will continue to back our leader, Tony Blair, in his efforts today to bring security and reconstruction to Iraq and to work with our allies to tackle the evil of nuclear, chemical and biological weapon proliferation in any part of the world.
I want you to work with us not just to support the modern industries, enterprise and wealth creation we need for full employment, but I want you to work with us so that we achieve the skills that we need to have full employment too. The skills of our members are not just the most important means of production and the commanding heights of our economy, they are also the key to job prospects, career opportunities, future standards of living and individual opportunity for millions, as you were discussing only a few minutes ago.
So let us salute, in each of our unions, todays trade union pioneers of the new skills revolution - the 6,500 men and women who are Trade Union Learning Representatives, rightly bargaining for skills, the 36,000 getting qualifications today at Trade Union Learning Centres, nearly one million workers succeeding in Learn Direct and the Skills for Life programme and the Employer Training Pilots, which are breaking with the old failed voluntarism of the past and ensuring that in return for workers time off, workers have the financial support to obtain the new skills they want and need.
Because this is only the start, we want to work with you to seize the opportunity so that, supported by more finance that we will make available for the Trade Union Learning Fund, trade unions are at the centre of hundreds more learning centres in each region of the country, that can pioneer trade union colleges and even trade union universities, and can lead and drive forward the skills and training revolution at work, tackling what Digby Jones rightly called this morning the scandal of seven million adults denied basic literacy. Just as with schools and universities, where I ask you to support modern and reformed systems of funding, opportunities and chances, once available only to the few, can be open to every union member ant every worker in every workplace in Britain.
We want to work with you also so that workers can benefit from the next major challenge, and that is in the absence of proper child care, how mothers and fathers struggling to balance work and family life, can have proper child care and support services. We will build from the improvements we have made in maternity and paternity pay, from nursery education for all, from the Sure Start programme and the new Childrens Centres, and we will be something that this movement has fought for for years: at the centre of our economic as well as our social policy, the first national child care strategy for this country.
But I have also to make it clear, as long as I am Chancellor there will be no return to the mistakes that past Labour and Conservative Governments made of attempting quick fixes, of gambling with our stability and of failing to modernise our public services. Trust is built from demonstrating the strength to take the long-term decisions and demonstrating the courage to hold true to your long-term vision.
Just as there will be no return to the monetarist economics, arbitrary public spending cuts and privatisations of the Conservatives, and no retreat from our vision of full employment and public services free at the point of need, I tell you, honestly, there can be no return to inflationary pay rises, no return to loss making subsidies that prevent the best long-term decisions for Britain, no resort to legislation from Europe or elsewhere that would risk jobs, no retreat from a pro enterprise and pro industry agenda and there can be no retreat from demanding efficiency and value for money as well as equity as we renew and reform each of our public services.
It is by a continued commitment to long-term stability and discipline that we will be able to have growth in spending in the next spending round, and it is our determination to deliver world class public services that means we will offer growth in spending only where we can secure value for money, cut back on central bureaucracy, move resources to the front line first to where your members are doing so much work, matching resources to reform, and today we are starting by publishing the Lyons report that sets out proposals that could relocate 20,000 government posts out of Whitehall into the regions and contribute to our plans for full employment for all the regions and nations of this country.
While we know that there are real issues which divide us in the debate about the reform of public services, it is because we are all committed to one aim - world class public services for Britain - that we should resolve to work together to settle these issues not through headlines and conflict but through dialogue and discussion.
Friends, a Britain of full employment, high productivity, modern manufacturing strength and world class public services. This is a vision for Britain that recognises that what unites us is not just our constitutions, rules books, sentiment or simply historical associations as a labour Movement, but common beliefs shared by this Congress and by the British people. They are values that demand dignity of labour, social justice and the right of not just some but all to opportunity and security in modern Britain.
But let us never forget the lesson that this labour Movement has understood for one hundred years, the lessons we have learned from our successes as well as our failures, that the foundation of all we do, the rock on which we build, the pre-condition for what we achieve, and the basis of long-term trust is our ability to secure economic stability, progress and growth. It is to make possible rising employment, and it is our ability to create economic prosperity, not just for a few but for everyone.
And six years into this Government, I am more confident than ever that building on the strong economic foundations we have been creating together, we can, with continued discipline not only create full employment, but under a Labour Government eradicate child poverty, extend educational opportunity to all, ensure all the pensioners of this country dignity in retirement, meet our responsibilities as we must to the poor of this world and build prosperity for all.
I believe that we can achieve, if we work together, in our time and in our generation, the historic aims and the aspirations of this labour Movement - a recognition that we advance best when we advance together, that chances once available only to an elite should be available to everyone, that by our common endeavour, power, opportunity and wealth should be in the hands not of the few but of the many. That is a vision of economic progress and social justice, moving forward together. That is our shared vision, I believe, for the future. I believe it is the British peoples agenda too. I believe, friends, it is the agenda that offers the best way forward for us all. (Applause)
The President: Thank you very much, indeed, Gordon, for that very wide-ranging review. There may, as you say, be differences over details and, maybe, some of the means, but I think the level of support in this hall overall for the ultimate objectives the Government have set themselves are, I believe, very strong. Towards the end of what you said, Gordon, you called for us to work together. I think we should commit ourselves to do that. We may not always succeed as well as we would like, but I think there is certainly a determination and will to try and work a little better than we have in the past. That is a commitment for the future, Gordon. Thank you very much, indeed.
National agreement on raising standards and tackling workload
(Insert Motion 45 - National agreement on raising standards and tackling workload)
The President: The General Council supports the motion.
Eamonn OKane (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) moved the following motion:
(Insert Motion 45 - National agreement on raising standards and tackling workload)
He said: In moving Motion 45, I am very happy to accept the amendment in the name of UNISON. Colleagues, this National agreement on raising standards and reducing workload has been described as historic, and rightly so for three main reasons. One is that comes as a result of weeks of negotiations between the unions and the Government and local authorities on issues which have not ever been the subject of serious negotiations for twenty years. Secondly, the negotiations, included for the first time unions representing all the staff employed in the education service, not just the teaching unions. Thirdly, the agreement held at the beginning of a re-modelling of the teaching profession which will release teachers having responsibility for a multitude of extraneous tasks and allow them to concentrate on their vital and fundamental task of teaching. This agreement is the result of a wide-ranging and effect campaign to reduce the bureaucratic workload demands on teachers waged by all the TUC teacher union affiliates. That united campaign succeeded in persuading the Government that unless this issue of teacher workload was tackled, the country was faced with a heammorhage of teachers from the profession, and with that any objective of driving up standards of pupil achievements could be fatally undermined.
The resultant discussions with the Government were intially somewhat tentative, but as both sides gained confidence a series of exchanges was intended and the discussions moved into real negotiations. We produced, in the end, an agreement which, over a three year period, will result in a new contract for teachers which will relieve them of a wide range of administrative tasks, previously undertaken by them; it will introduce, for the first time, a contractual right to release from teaching duties during the school day for teachers to plan, prepare and assess pupils work; it will set out the limits on a teachers obligations to cover their classes, with targets to remove that obligation altogether; and it will establish a contractual right for teachers for a proper work/life balance, the very issue that was discussed in some detail yesterday.
These demands, President, as you know too well, have formed the staple fare of teacher union conferences for years, yet now, for the first time, they are about to be implemented.
There is more. Central to this agreement is a recognition that many staff other than teachers will be employed in schools. As well as undertaking many of the tasks previously discharged by teachers, they will work with their teacher colleagues on a whole range of activities, such as pupil supervision, pupil behaviour management and cover supervision, and they will be widely welcomed by teachers.
As anyone with experience of schools will know, the more adults who are around - the better. It results in a less frenetic atmosphere, which helps enormously with pupil behaviour and morale. It provides the opportunity for individual pupil contact in helping to deal with issues such as bullying and counselling. Yes, such non-teaching colleagues will take responsibility from time to time for classes of pupils, but they will do so under the direction of a qualified teacher and they will be building upon the work already done by thousands of classroom assistants in hundreds of schools up and down the country.
For the first time ever, statutory regulations drawn up by the signatories to this agreement - that is the Unions college - how many times in the past have unions been involved in drawing up statutory regulations? These statutory regulations will set out the distinctive responsibilities for the qualified teachers and their new high level teaching assistants. The regulations will make clear that the two jobs are not inter-changeable and that each class and group in a school will have a qualified teacher assigned to them. I believe, as do all the signatories to the agreement, that these regulations protect the role of the qualified teacher and will not lead to a diminution of teacher professionalism which was feared by our colleagues in the National Union of Teachers, who I deeply regret, for those reasons, felt unable to sign the agreement.
Of course, these great changes are predicated on the necessary funding being available. My colleague from UNISON will deal with that in some detail. For us, these contractual changes, the first of which will be implemented in September, are in. Any failure to do so will meet with the sort of response that can be expected, including industrial action follow a refusal to implement such contractual changes.
Colleagues, we have had many debates here on the social partnership and what is meant by it. I believe that this national agreement and the negotiations leading up to it, and even more importantly in the implementation of the agreement, is a genuine example of social partnership. Even the title of the agreement - 'Raising standards: reducing workload' - is symbolic of that partnership. The interest of the unions in reducing workload and creating new career paths for support staff coincides with the Governments objective of raising standards since one is dependent on the other. Of course, the discussions have not been easy. At times they have been hard and have come near to break-up. That is to be expected. However, the discussions have been characterised by an increasing openness and willingness of all parties to accept and work out compromises. Most important of all, they have marked an acceptance by the Government that the role of the unions in the provision and improvement of public service is fundamental to any major reform. It would be easier to walk away, with any self-satisfying negativity, to which at times even the best trade unionists can succumb. But I am haunted by the thought that all those thousands of members out there, particularly young members, who, on learning of yet another magnificent defeat, begin to ask the question, 'Is that all there is to trade unionism?'
This agreement, colleagues, and the unions who are signatories to it, can give a resounding rejection to that council of despair for they have shown that the unions can demonstrate those qualities of intelligence, commitment and strength, which over the years have been central to the material improvement to the working conditions of the millions who they represent. For that reason, colleagues, I hope that Congress will give its full support to this motion. I move.
Carole Maleham (UNISON), in seconding the Motion, said: We are happy to be seconding this motion and welcoming the National Agreement for schools staff. We believe that this agreement is the first stage in recognising the skills that support staff have brought to schools, and if implemented properly it will lead to better education to all children. For years nursery nurses, teaching assistants, secretaries, support and professional staff have seen themselves as general dogs bodies in schools. That fact was reflected in their pay, within their contracts and the lack of access to training.
School support staff are overwhelmingly low paid women workers with little, if any access to a career structure, training or development opportunities. During the past few years their responsibilities have expanded, and classroom based staff in particular, such as teaching assistants, and early years practitioners, have been given additional tasks and responsibilities. Surveys show that 15% of teaching assistants have provided cover for absent teachers, and 30% have had some responsibilities for whole classes, but this fact has never been reflected in their pay. UNISON has been pressing the Government and the national employers for years to address these issues. We do not want our members exploited any more, but we do want their professionalism and the work they do alongside qualified teachers to be recognised. We believe the discussions around the re-modelling agenda have helped us to pursue this. We do not pretend that everything, as a result of this agreement, will be perfect, and we recognise that there will have to be some safeguards implemented to the agreement.
For this agreement to be a success, we need funding from the Government. Yes, the Government must put their money where the pledges are to make it work. We need access to real pay and grading systems which reflect the jobs our members actually do. We need training, career development opportunities, genuine consultation and negotiations on the implementation of this agreement, locally between employers and education unions.
Most importantly, we need extra pay for the staff taking on extra responsibilities. Enough is enough. We are not doing anything for nothing any more. We need to be honest about what has happened this year. Schools hit by funding problems have had to make redundancies or cut staff hours. This has meant fewer support staff to do the work than before. Those taking on extra staff need proper rewards. We need an end to term-time working and paid staff, all staff, for 52 weeks of the year.
UNISON believes that if these safeguards are properly in place, the agreement can be a success and bring real benefits for everyone involved in education.
Some of you may have seen an ad in the Guardian today. The question was asked: 'Who is teaching your children?' The answer is the whole team is teaching your child. Support the motion.
Sheila Bearcroft (GMB) speaking in support of the motion, said: President and Congress, what would be your reaction to the following workplace practices: separate rest rooms for different grades of staff; two-tier canteen provisions for different grades; staff groups excluded from meetings where issues relating to their jobs are discussed; holiday pay for some, time off without pay for others; some staff forced to pay for their own work-related training and to do it in their own time?
You might think that such practices dated from the bad old days, before concepts like teamworking and single status came into being, and before organisations utilised the skills and the talents of their workforce. Well, you would be wrong! These practices are part of everyday reality from many school support staff today - 2003. Yet study after study confirms their vital role in raising standards in education, both in the classroom and through ensuring the efficient running of the school infrastructure.
The National agreement has, for the first time, publicly acknowledged the existing contribution of support staff and their further potential. It provides firm commitments to training, development and career opportunities, but turning commitments into reality is the key issue if education improvements are to be sustained. For example, our highly skilled and experienced nursery nurses and teaching assistants now have the opportunity to be awarded higher level teaching assistant status. Others will be able to this level through nationally accredited training and assessment. Congress, support staff have had enough of being taken for granted and endlessly ask for just a little bit more goodwill in accepting more responsibilities for no extra pay. It is a case of todays favour is tomorrows job. This is the best opportunity we have had of addressing these long-standing issues. The potential exists but the government must meet its commitment to ensuring adequate funding for all aspects of the agreement, including sufficient extra staff, training and development opportunities, paying and grading structures, which will deliver equal pay and properly rewards responsibilities, skills, qualifications and dedication.
Please support us in our campaign to implement the agreement in full and hold the Government to its funding commitments. We support.
Gerald Imison (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) : President and colleagues, it has long been the aspiration of ATL members -- of all teachers -- to have their workloads reduced. Hours within teaching are not always measurable but there is absolutely no doubt that teachers are no strangers to the long hours culture that was criticised so effectively yesterday.
We have been working to reduce the workload on teachers and, last year, Congress supported the work that was underway. This year, the resolution that we have before us reports and seeks support for the outcomes -- for genuine outcomes; for outcomes which will benefit all teachers. The agreement which Eamon summarised effectively and at high speed comes from partnership working between the unions, the employers and the Government. That partnership has involved us in negotiations -- genuine negotiations -- in which all sides have made concessions in order to get the win/win situations that were necessary for our members.
Negotiations have not really been available in the educational environment for many, many years and so it has been absolutely crucial that we have been able to indulge in something which unions are good at and effective at and getting benefits for our members. However, as all the speakers have indicated so far, we continue to have reservations and those reservations are about funding. In terms of the partnership, only one of the partners can deliver on funding and that is the Government. It is there that the test of the partnership will come because there are signs that the Government wants to remain active and does not want to withdraw.
We have to make it absolutely clear at this stage, and that is the final two paragraphs of the resolution, that there are still crucial issues to be addressed and the Government will need to address them. However, one thing is certain. We have an agreement which has benefited absolutely our members, the teachers, UNISON members and GMB members -- the support staff in schools. The key thing now is that teams have been established where everyone is rightly recognised for the contribution that they make. Our members will benefit from that but, more importantly, the children in our schools will benefit from that. This partnership working will deliver the improved standards that our children need and rightly deserve. We support the resolution.
Jack Dromey (Transport and General Workers' Union): Last month, I listened with awe and respect to 100 outstanding public servants who are school support staff in Bristol; women workers waxing lyrical about their love of the job and their commitment to the children they love and serve. That is why we support the national agreement on raising standards and tackling workload: a better deal for the schools, a better education for the kids and a long awaited recognition that education is more than just teachers. Eamon, I warmly welcome your warm words about those that we represent.
The agreement will, with sufficient funding, at last recognise the role of school support staff. Support workers are the heartbeat of a school. They assist teachers in the classroom. They help children with learning needs. They cook the lunches. They organise the finances. They operate the computers. They clean the buildings. They open up the schools first thing in the morning and they close the schools last thing at night. Yet, historically, they have been undervalued and underpaid.
The agreement is a start -- a good start. Next, we need members to be properly rewarded for what they do, with Government playing its part because we cannot solve the problems of low pay and equal pay without Government is with us at the table. Yet, in Bristol, those same women workers are being treated shamefully. The Council has said, "We will re-grade you by Christmas, recognising that you have been undervalued for years". "but", the Council has said, "to save money, we will reduce you to term time only employment". What should have been a 4,000 increase for a classroom assistant caring for special needs kids is now going to be a £15 a week pay cut. But the Bristol backwoodsmen shall not succeed. Backed by the parents, our members are on the march.
Elsewhere in Middlesborough, we are challenging, under the Sex Discrimination Act, this shameful treatment of an overwhelmingly women workforce, arguing that it is unlawful sex discrimination to pay women term-time only -- a case that will be every bit as significant as our historic victory in the Eastbourne dustmen test case when we forced a Tory government to extend TUPE to cover 5.8 million public servants.
President, finally, term-time only employment is a national scandal. Members of Parliament, with four months' holiday a year, would never agree to be paid term-time only. Women workers in Britain deserve better.
(The right of reply was waived)
* The Motion was CARRIED.
Funding for schools
The President : I go on to Motion 46, funding for schools. The General Council supports the motion, you will be delighted to know, Doug.
Doug McAvoy (National Union of Teachers) moved the following motion:
(Insert Motion 46 - Funding for schools)
He said: President, in moving can I say the National Union of Teachers accepts the amendment in the name of the National Union of Teachers so we are doing the two together!
This is a time of year when parents have that feeling of delight and teachers have that feeling of despair. School is back! A teacher's despair is not about going back to face the problems and the challenges that they know will be there, because it is part of the job of teaching and they are prepared for that as a result of their professional qualifications.
The despair comes from knowin that, in all likelihood, they will not have the necessary resources or the necessary funding that they need to be effective as professionals. That is the situation in most schools this week and last week, as teachers have returned to find, in some cases, that the funding crisis has resulted in fewer teachers being employed; some teachers being made redundant; fewer support staff being employed; some support staff being redundant.
What happens in schools is not just the property of the education world. It is the concern or should be the concern of everyone in the country. The funding crisis that hits our schools should therefore concern you all and disturb you all. Our children's future depends on well-funded schools with enough teachers and enough support staff to make sure they can get the best out of education.
In this comprehensive spending review, the Government's Education Department promised "unprecedented increases in funding for the next three years" -- a promise that was part of the excellent address from the Chancellor. We are not a signatory to the School Workforce Agreement which has just been presented here, but the TUC affiliates were told in January that on top of committed costs schools would receive pouns 1 billion more this year for the implementation of that agreement. By Charles Clarke's own admission that extra funding has evaporated. It disappeared between January and May like snow in Spring. It was a classic: now you see it, now you don't. As a result, thousands of teachers' jobs have been lost; thousands of support staff jobs have gone. Some of the support staff cannot be ensured the same hours of work that they had before.
You cannot downplay that. They are the facts that are facing teachers and support staff as they go back. The vast majority of secondary schools have more children on roll but they have fewer staff. In all sectors of our education service, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of unqualified people teaching our children since the Government came to power. The Government has claimed they are teachers to make its performance better.
But there have been other effects. There has been a major drop in the amount of money schools have had to purchase text books. For the first time, parents now spend over two-thirds more than the state on primary and secondary school text books. Some parents are more able than others to afford that. School repairs have not been carried out and some of the improvements planned in school buildings have gone into reverse.
I will not rehearse all the excuses given for this. Simply, the civil servants and the DfES got their sums wrong on such basic issues as pay and pension costs, on changes to National Insurance and the way in which money gets into schools and the way in which school grants were to be changed.
I do not blame the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not blame Gordon Brown. He thought he had responded to the needs of schools but in the hands of the Governments' Education Department what should have been cause for celebration has turned to ashes.
For me and for the National Union of Teachers, there is an obvious solution to these mistakes; mistakes which underline what is taught in schools, increases class sizes and makes the job of teachers and support staff more difficult. The solution? More money in the schools now and allow us to do the job we want to do most effectively. They have refused to do that. I ask Congress to back our campaign to make Charles Clarke live up to those promises.
There was some dissent in the hall when the National Union of Teachers voted against the previous motion. We do so on one issue of principle, and that is the entitlement children have had over years to be taught by qualified teachers. That entitlement has been removed. By opposing that motion and by refusing to sign the agreement we are not making any statement that supports the raw deal that support staff have had and continue to have.
Yes, I agree with Jack Dromey. Support staff are underpaid. They are undervalued and it is a sin that support staff are engaged on termly contract. Teachers are not the cause of that. Teachers have never supported that and the National Union of Teaches does not support that now. We will campaign with anyone to improve the lot of support staff who work with us as part of the team in schools. But we ask you to support us, first, for more funding and to understand our campaign that teachers should retain their qualification and youngsters should retain the entitlement to be taught by qualified teachers. I move.
Judy Moorhouse (National Union of Teachers) in seconding the motion, said: President and Congress, no matter what union you belong to, you well understand the value of the acquisition of learning in schools. The Union Learning Fund and Union Learning Representatives are making a tremendous difference to the lives of trade union members, including members of the NUT.
The recruitment and retention of qualified teachers has been an issue of major concern for a number of years. The NUT has, itself, commissioned a number of surveys of its members asking who is leaving the profession and why. We were extremely concerned to find that after training and in the first three years of teaching, over 50 per cent of recruits to the profession had never begun teaching at all or were no longer teaching. That, Congress, is a shocking statistic.
Why was this happening? There were a variety of reasons but a very strong factor was the lack of a planned programme of on the job training opportunities. To its credit, the Government has recognised that to have any chance of attracting and keeping aspiring and qualified teachers they had to be given training opportunities in order to practice and refine their craft, acquire new skills and enhance their pride in their chosen profession.
So an early professional development programme targeted at all teachers in their second and third years of teaching was developed in partnership with 12 local education authorities. Its purpose was to recruit teachers into the profession and keep them there. Young teachers and education authorities were enthused by the success of the project and looked forward to its expansion in schools. Fifty-nine million pounds was to be put into budgets for 2004 and £100 million in the following year. Then came the unwelcome news that the programme had been cancelled and that the promised money was to be re-allocated in order to shore up school budgets. Congress, what an indictment of Government in the middle of a recruitment and retention crisis and with our agreed focus on raising standards in schools, that further learning and new skills for teachers should be sacrificed in order to enhance schools' budgets -- and all because the Government got their numbers wrong!. No good employer should so swiftly cut back on investing in skills and the expertise of its workforce, especially if that workforce is becoming dangerously depleted. It is just not good enough for the Secretary of State for Education to scrabble around for mor money -- robbing Peter to pay Paul. As argued by the General Secretary when moving this motion, Charles Clarke should screw his courage to the sticking plate go to the Chancellor and say, "Gordon, give us the money -- please"!
(The right of reply was waived)
* The Motion was CARRIED.
The President : We move to Motion 47 on class sizes. The General Council supports the motion.
Dougie Mackie (Educational Institute of Scotland) moved the following motion:
(Insert Motion 47 - Class sizes)
He said:: President and Congress, "Education, education, education"; a mantra we have all heard before. But what does it mean in real terms at the sharp end of education; the real cutting edge; the chalkface? How do we measure its delivery? Colleagues, today I will give you one measure understood by everyone: class size. That is understood by teachers, by parents and, most of all, by the pupils themselves. Smaller classes for teachers means lessons of activities better targeted towards the needs of each pupil. Smaller classes for parents means that they can be confident that their child's teacher knows and understand their child's need. Smaller classes for pupils means that they can receive more of their teacher's time to help them meet their needs. Modern teaching methods, new technology and new courses all point towards one thing - a crying need to reduce class size.
For many years Governments in all parts of the UK used to deny that this was the case. "Where is the research to show us?", they would say. Wherever you look that research is now available. The evidence is irrefutable. All the established work in the United States, in the State of Tennessee, has shown that for the better part of a decade smaller classes deliver a better education. Comparisons of school performance conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and a new work recently published by the Programme for International Student Assessment shows that large class sizes leads to poor performances, particularly when the class size exceeds 25. Where are Scotland and the rest of the UK when these international comparisons are made?
In September 2002 the average primary class size in Scotland stood at 24. In international league table terms, that figure was well below such economic giants as Portugal, Poland and the Czech and Slovak Republics. A list of 25 leading countries, including all our European allies ranked by class size in lower secondary education, the UK was a miserable 22nd place out of 25. Of all our EU partners in recession or out, only Spain had a higher class size in the other secondary years. There is one sector, however, where the figures stand up to comparison; the independent sector where in Scotland they have teacher/pupil ratios of 9.4 compared with 14.8. If it is good enough to be a bog standard for independent schools, then it should be good enough for the public sector.
What can be done? We in EIS are in no doubt. Our key demand in this year's Scottish Parliamentary elections was for a target figure in all mentioned classes for a maximum class size of 20. That is why we welcome the proposals put forward by the coalition partners, the New Scottish Executive, to further reduce class sizes in the early years of primary education and in English and mathematics classes in the early years of secondary education.
Population projections for the year ahead point to falling school rolls. A window of opportunity now exists to make a real and lasting cut to class sizes throughout the UK. Careful planning and allocation of appropriate resources by this Government will be absolutely crucial. Now is the time for the talking and the spin to end. Now is the time -- the second time for this Government -- for positive action. Reduced class sizes based on the employment of appropriately qualified teaching staff will be essential for a modern economy to enable us to compete effectively worldwide to give the next generation of workers the skills we need for the 21st century.
Education, education, education. Make it happen now: smaller classes in every classroom at every school in every corner of this land for every child.
Maureen Skevington (National Union of Teachers) in seconding Motion 47 said: Congress, I welcome the opportunity to support the EIS motion on class sizes. We have just heard that in Scotland, which, incidentally, is only a few miles across the border from where I live in the North of England, that they understand that samller classes and class size works and benefits children.
Here, in England, in 1997, following much pressure and campaigning, the Labour Government also understood that smaller classes worked and we welcomed the fact that they introduced mandatory class sizes of 30 for five to seven year olds. That was a great achievement welcomed by schools and by parents. But then it stopped. We had no limits to class sizes for children from eight to 11 year olds; no class size limit for secondary young people. The benefits which children have in their early years is lost to them after the age of seven. Yet in Scotland the Scottish Executive has ambitions to improve class size limits for children of all ages. Independent schools know the value of class sizes. It is their major selling point. Why cannot this Government understand that?
Ten years ago the Star project in Tennessee in the United States spent enormous amounts of money looking at the effects of class size on standards. That project found that teachers were able to teach more, the more deprived children benefited from being in smaller classes and standards went up. That was 10 years ago and those findings were rubbished by the Conservative Government. They were wrong.
Other studies into class size have taken place. The NUT conducted one with Cambridge University. Again, we found that small class sizes allowed teachers to teach. Another study, recently commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, found that bureaucracy multiplied with larger classes. They have more planning, more preparation, more marking, more behavioural problems to tackle and more workload for all teachers.
If class size matters for seven year olds then class size must matter for all children and young people as they progress through school. The advantages for teachers and children alike of working in classroom environments give better opportunities for all. It should be obvious to the Government as it is to the teachers and to the Scottish Executive. It is obvious to me. I well recall teaching a class of 44 seven year olds and being branded a trouble-maker when I refused to have a 50th child in my class.
I welcome the fact that the EIS motion brings back into focus the issue of class size. The Government has been so focused on issues like the school workforce agreement that it has forgotten the basic truth about what improves standards. The smaller the number of children the teacher has in the class, the more time that teacher has for each child. It is simple, really. Congress, I move.
* The Motion was CARRIED.
Social inclusion and education
The President : I now go on to Motion 48, social inclusion and education and indicate General Council support, but with a reservation which will be explained in the course of the debate by the General Secretary.
Eric Page (Association of Educational Psychologists) moved the following motion:
(Insert Motion 48 - Social inclusion and education)
He said: President and Congress, this motion seeks an end to elitism and disadvantage in education and in our society and move practical goals to this end.
A Green Paper came out by the Government only yesterday stating that every child has the chance to fulfil their potential by reducing levels of educational failure. To that end, that Green Paper which arises from the Victoria Climbie case says that an individual person will be identified with every child in order to liaise and co-ordinate the meeting of that child's needs.
This motion is about an end to the elitism that means children with special needs, especially of a behavioural kind, have to be bused to and from a special school out of their locality or even out of their region. I have to go and visit somebody who is 150 miles away in a special school. More about that in the minute.
It is possible to overcome this busing and this special school environment that has been there ever since the 1981 Education Act. 0.3 per cent of children in Newham go to special schools. 2.6 per cent of children in Manchester go to special schools. Why the difference? It is how you meet the children's needs and how you organise it.
This motion is also about an end to the elitism that creates a process of a no-win culture for the minority, ethnic and disadvantaged backgrounds; social economic class and value systems.
I work in Leicester where nearly 50 per cent of the population would be identified as being ethnic minority. I know where that particular city and the schools in the city appeared in the league tables.. It is to do with the process that identifies with the culture and the needs of the disadvantaged and certainly some ethnic minorities. We know which ones under-achieve and it is not to do with levels of intelligence.
This motion is also about an end to the 11-plus elitism 40 years after, we believe, society needed comprehensive education. Academic selection is on the increase with pupils being privately tutored at years five and six in order to pass entrance examination. I could give names of such schools that exist, thereby creating what used to be called a sink school for those that do not pass that entrance examination.
If 54 per cent of pupils get A to C, 46 per cent do not and I, in opposition to elitism, and our Association say, what is wrong with 100 per cent of the population at 16 getting A to C if that is what is recognised as a relevant level of educational achievement?. Until last year, excluded children could have as little as three hours home tuition -- for children for more appropriate learning. Now the pupil referral units have to give a minimum of 23 hours a week. But there are still units -- and I know because I see children in two of them -- where the so-called ethnic minority children are very near to being not only a majority in those pupil referral units but who did not need to go to those units if their needs had been met prior to being sent there.
We need an end to the elitism that suggests only by sending a child to a so-called residential special school 150 miles from their home, run privaely at a cost of up to £100,000 a year can meet a child's needs. This is educational privatisation of the worst kind. Join us in helping to end it.
Finally, in setting smart targets with active verbs, if you look at it, in order that the five objectives be set, we do it with a view that it is not just a wish-list. We want implementation and measurement of that implementation and I call on Congress to support this motion. I move, Chair.
Christine Wilde (UNISON) in seconding the motion said: Congress, we are pleased to be seconding this motion and congratulate the Association of Educational Psychologists for highlighting this important issue and for highlighting the failure of governments to ensure that all our children have equal positive opportunities in our schools.
Good educating and good health are the building blocks to participating fully in society. Without them, there is restricted access to employment and a major threat of poverty. We are aware that some unions are concerned at the reference to targets in the motion and we certainly would not support the setting of crude targets in such critical areas. But here, in this motion, the five objectives are just that - objectives. They represent our aims and hopes for the future. Surely we can all share the aim to end educational segregation. If we do not, progress will never be made.
UNISON brings a wealth of experience to this debate. We have members in education -- 20,000 teaching assistants alone -- who play a vital role in ensuring that children's educational experience is positive. They are part of the whole school team. Day in and day out our members in social services, welfare services and educational support services are working to ensure that children's experience in school is positive. It is their voice we reflect when we look to that their education and, in particular, those aspects covered by this piece of legislation is key to ensuring social inclusion.
In addition, with our disabled members and working with campaigning organisations, we have been challenging discrimination and promoting inclusive education for disabled young people. We supported the special educational needs and disability legislation and believe that tackling discrimination in society cannot be achieved through persuasion and good intentions alone.
We need to set ourselves tasks to achieve if we are not to see future generations of young people who have low expectations and a society that does not gain from their involvement.
Children are our future. They are individuals with different needs. Any parent will tell you so. This motion represents where we want to go. If there are concerns among us about how we go there then, surely, all the interested parties can get together to discuss a way forward. But we do need this motion. Thank you.
The President : I have had a number of indications of unions wanting to intervene in the debate, but I think it would be helpful if I call the General Secretary first to explain the General Council's reservation.
The General Secretary : Congress, the General Council agreed to support this motion but with reservations, and let me explain why. On the one hand, the motion is broadly progressive in that it seeks the full implementation of the 2002 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act. That Act seeks to improve the educational service provided to children with social, behavioural, emotional or learning difficulties. The General Council backs that aspect of the motion without reservation.
However, it is the reference in the motion to "targets" that causes the General Council concern and, I know, has attracted opposition from some unions.
Congress, our public services and the education service in particular have had too many targets imposed on them -- targets that, too often, have not been backed by the necessary resources. So the General Council does not want to encourage the Government to put in place even more ill thought-out targets.
One key point in the motion, for example, refers to targets for the proportions of children with special needs who should be taught either in special schools or in their local schools. It is highly questionable whether such a target would be feasible or desirable. On balance, therefore, since the overall thrust of the motion is within Congress policy of seeking to tackle social inclusion and campaigning for better resources, it was judged that the motion should be supported but with these specific reservations relating to that issue of targets.
Jerry Glazier (National Union of Teachers) in opposing Motion 48 said: President and Congress, the NUT also fully supports the implementation of the 2002 Special Educational Needs and Disability Act. The campaign for increasing provision for pupils with special needs to be taught in ordinary schools as part of social and education inclusion, has, for many years, been high on the teaching profession's agenda.
However, with considerable regret, the NUT is unable to support this motion because part of it would seek to undermine the means by which pupils with, for example, emotional and behavioural difficulties can be supported. Pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties are an issue of growing concern to teachers, pupils and parents. These are pupils who have severe behavioural issues that damage their access to education and the access to the education of others around them.
Units are referred to in (iv) of this motion like 'pupil referral units', which are a sound means by which permanently excluded pupils can be properly supported, the causes of their difficulties identified and sorted, enabling them to return to ordinary schools. Similarly, on-site learning support units in schools, the development of which the Government have correctly supported and provided funds to establish, provide a necessary resource in schools.
These units support pupils with help that positively changes behaviour and encourages them to re-engage with the educational opportunities that the school provides but they, too often, reject. So, Congress, a reduction in units which this motion argues for would reduce the means by which increased education and social inclusion can be achieved. For this reason, the NUT ask you to vote against this motion.
Shirley Rainey (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) in supporting the motion said: President and Congress, the CSP support this motion but with some real and significant reservations. Our members are keen to see all children be in the school that most meets their identified needs. If that means mainstream schooling, that is great.
But at the present moment inclusion is only partially working. Some children with complex health needs who have gone out into the mainstream are struggling. There is no proper access into the school, no proper seating, no access to upstairs classrooms, no proper toilet facilities and nowhere for the children to receive their therapy. If you have ever been in hospital and had some chest therapy yourselves, you will know that you would not want to share that with your colleagues. But these children are having chest therapy in hallways, cupboards or in the middle of the library.
The alternative to going into mainstream is to stay in special schools because there is no money for the necessary equipment in the local mainstream schools. Or, even worse, one education authority in my own area tried to refuse to give a child a statement because (if you realise) the statement highlights the child's needs and equipment and the support required to enable them to access the full school curriculum. They said there was no money.
If the inclusion called for in this motion is linked to targets, then we believe that there is the danger that more children will be sent out without the proper support. Inclusion is a fairly new initiative. Therapists, teachers and the children are still learning to cope with the process. Let us do it properly and make sure the children get the education they want and need.
Sue Rogers (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) in opposing the motion said: Let me make it clear, colleagues, that we have no problem in the NASUWT with the first paragraph. I know, in my own school, we have children with wheelchairs, we have children with growth disorders and we have children with a whole variety of problems. What we are against in this motion is a number of things. First of all, as Brendan rightly identifies, targets. Yes, they are rigid and they are unsatisfactory with no more impact when it comes to such things as exclusions. We had targets for exclusions. Exclusions went down but violence, disruption and bullying in schools went up and one could actually have the courage to admit they got it wrong.
All workers need protection and teachers are no exception to that, or all the support staff in schools. But what we are really concerned with is other elements inside this motion. We have some deep reservations about (i); the pressure, in actual fact, that this motion seems to bring to look at putting on specialist schools and the closure of the specialist schools. The educational psychologists themselves admitted, in an earlier motion, that there was a 20 per cent shortfall of their members. The reality is, however, colleagues, that if we are putting support for pupils right throughout the schools in an authority, the financial burden is prohibitive.
Within my own authority, by 2009 it will take double the whole budget of the whole council to support children with special needs throughout the schools. It is a bit like care in the community; putting them out without the kind of help and support they need. But, above all, as my colleague from the NUT said, we are concerned with section (iv) in this motion. As a union, we have campaigned for such units as this to remove the risk of exclusion; to try and keep children close to and give an opportunity to go back into mainstream education. So where children with emotional and behavioural disorders face problems and difficulties inside school, these units provide specialist help and support -- a breathing space to those children and to get them back into the mainstream. They actually allow re-integration and avoid exclusion.
We are also concerned, to some extent, with (v) because where there are some very specialised schools which authorities have to buy -- perhaps only three or four across the country -- to get children with very specific needs into, this motion could reduce such opportunities.
As it stands, colleagues, the motion would inhibit the effectiveness of school, not enhance them and, therefore, with much regret, I have to say that I would urge you to reject the motion. I oppose.
Ronnie Smith (Educational Institute of Scotland) in opposing the motion said: I would say that this motion is, at best, carelessly worded. It calls on Government departments in the four nations to set certain targets in the field of special education. But education is a devolved function: in Wales, to its Assembly, in Scotland, to its Parliament, and in Northern Ireland, from time to time, to its Assembly. It is simply not the business of Government departments to condescend on these issues in three of the four nations.
In point (iii) a target is proposed to end selection by examination at 11 plus. Let me tell Congress that was achieved in Scotland 30 years ago. It would do nothing for the credibility of this Congress to pass a motion calling on the wrong agencies to set targets to achieve an objective which was achieved three decades ago.
But there are more substantive reasons to resist this motion. We should not be breathing life into the target setting agenda just as the Government are beginning to recognise some of the damaging and distorting effects on many public services of their fixation with targets. For most public services target setting has been a corrosive and pernicious influence; more often than not, used as a stick with which to beat public servants for non-compliance.
But even were we to accept that targets were appropriate here, why would we want to leave it to Government departments to decide on these targets? We, as education professionals, should be centrally involved in determining what targets, if any, should be set in special education, not passively waiting for Government to hand down targets from on high as this motion proposes, if you read the words.
But the targets here are unacceptable. They aim to cut special schools, to cut special units off-site and to cut special units on-site. What we really need is a full range of forms of provision to meet the huge variety of additional needs many of our children now have. Decisions about the education of our children should be based on an honest, independent, professional assessment of their needs -- an assessment which our members, including educational psychologists, have a key contribution to make.
It is simply wrong to call for restrictions in meeting the real needs of children by having to dance around the totem pole of targets set by people mostly working at a safe distance from the classroom.
I urge Congress to reject this motion.
Eric Page (Association of Educational Psychologists) in exercising the right of reply said: Congress, 2,700 members of the Association of Educational Psychologists spend much of their working day and week working with children with special educational needs. They are not remote. They have considered carefully when they moved this motion.
I just want to reply to four points that have been made. The setting of targets means that instead of the Trade Union Congress passing wish-list motions, it seeks the setting of targets to say, "This is what we want achieved". In the case of comprehensive education, it is 40 years old. In the case of special needs and mainstream, it is since the 1981 Education Act. We can seek for the professionals to help to achieve it, but that is why we live in a democratic society, to seek the elected representatives to put pressure on me and on others to say, "This is the target we want to meet". If we are in for social inclusion, then let us set a time limit on when we are going to achieve it rather than wait another 20 years.
I appreciate the points that have been made about the units, but units are segregation. They might be locational segregation but they are certainly segregation as seen by those people who are in it. When they are off-site too many of them remain off-site for more than a few weeks and a few months. This motion puts pressure -- and I am proud for it to be pressure -- on all of us in the education system to move towards the social inclusion agenda of these that are failed by the education system.
Congress, please support.
* The Motion was CARRIED
Post-16 Education and Training
The President: I now call Composite Motion 12, indicating the General Council's support.
Sally Hunt (Association of University Teachers) moved Composite Motion 12.
(Insert Composite Motion 12 - Post-16 Education and Training)
She said: University education, how it is resourced, delivered and to whom is now under the spotlight as never before. The government have increased the amount of funding available, reversing the years of decline under the Tories that has done so much damage, and for that they deserve real credit. A White Paper will shortly become a full blown Bill. Its themes -- greater access, well-classed research, better teaching -- are ones that AUT members have wanted government action on for many years, so they are pleased that the government are boosting the status of university teaching. They overwhelmingly support broader access to university. They want to see university change from a middle class privilege to an opportunity for all.
Over the last 20 years against ever declining resources university staff, the lecturers, the researchers as well as the usually forgotten cleaners, porters, security guards, secretaries, librarians and technicians have brought about huge growth in higher education. Student numbers have increased from 625,000 to just under 2 million, and last year alone 17,000 people graduated in education, 6,000 new doctors and dentists and 20,000 engineers.
Meanwhile, in those last 20 years whilst student classes have doubled, academic pay has slipped 40 per cent behind compared to comparable workers. Last year alone 2,000 AUT members lost their jobs when fixed term contracts were not renewed. Why am I telling you this? Because university staff more than anyone have much to gain from increasing funding for higher education. You might expect them to say 'Give us the money. We do not know where it comes from and we do not care'. Well no, they do care, and they do not want top-up fees.
Make sure you understand what is going on here. The government do not just want to increase fees, they want universities to charge different fees. The government want to turn higher education into a market by introducing variable fees, otherwise known us top-up fees. They want universities to be able to vary the fee they charge the students up to a total of £3,000 a year. Not all universities, just some; not all students, just those who dare to raise their aspirations and head for the most popular courses. Money, resources, pay, the best teachers, the successful researches, will all gravitate to a fewer number of institutions, those charging the full fee, and meanwhile those students who most fear debt will swiftly move in the opposite action. This will be a two-tier access to a two-tier system.
Listen to university staff when they say loud and clear that variable top-up fees are not the way forward. Listen to them, trades unionists, when they tell this Labour Government that it will lose more than the argument if they pursue this policy. It is unjust, it is unfair and unsupported by students, by university staff and, I hope, by you. A growing number of Labour MPs already oppose this policy. They know their seats will not just be burnt, they will be incinerated. Middle England, beloved of New Labour, will not wear top-up fees or support the logic behind them, but what we in trades unions realise -- and the government should too -- is that this is not a middle class issue. More than anything this is a working class issue. This is forcing students from poor backgrounds to leave university with debts of £20,000 or more. That has to be the best possible way of stopping working class children from ever contemplating university.
Variable fees, a two-tier university system, will hurt the very people that education is meant to help. A debt -- call it a graduate tax, an interest free loan, an investment in the future and a modern reform system of funding -- is still just, that £20,000 hanging round the neck of every woman and man who dares to dream of changing their lives and taking control. University staff do not want your children to make their choices based on their ability to pay rather than their ability, and they reject the proposals put forward by the government. They ask that you do too. They ask the government to think again. If what we want is real access and real opportunity for all those we represent, what we must do now is support progressive taxation to fund higher education and throw out cheque book learning.
William Rea (Society of Radiographers) in seconding the composite motion said: The Society of Radiographers fully supports and commends all aspects of this composite and implore Congress to do likewise.
In addition to the position and supporting comments presented by our colleague from the AUT, with which we wholeheartedly agree, the Society of Radiographers would like to highlight a potential crisis in the delivery of higher education for healthcare if the current levels of staffing and pay for academic healthcare educators remains unchanged. Members of the Society of Radiographers in education are committed to their students, committed to the National Health Service, committed to patient care and committed to the delivery of the service to patients across the UK. But our members expect to be paid fairly for this responsibility. I am a lecturer in radiography and I enjoy my work. I enjoy teaching students who, I know, will make a difference and will contribute to the health of the nation. Our knowledge and our skills come from experience and workplace learning gained in the clinical environment, working at the sharp end of health care and supported by deep academic study. This knowledge equips us to educate and train students to the highest standards. It ensures that students leave with an understanding of the demands of health care and the way in which the healthcare system operates for the benefit of the patients we serve.
However, this vital service that we provide is under threat. Increasingly the Society of Radiographers has seen the pay for members in the higher education sector decline by 40 per cent in the last 20 years, in comparison with other workers. We have seen the pay differential between the National Health Service and the education sector widen. If this continues, the delivery of the education needs for the National Health Service will suffer at a time when the radiography service needs radiographers.
However, pay is only one of the problems. Since 1956 there has been a 56 per cent increase in the number of student radiographers. This increase in student numbers is to be commended as we try to deliver the National Health Service modernisation agenda. But in the same period the number of radiographers in higher education has risen by less than one per cent. To maintain and enhance the quality of education, and hence the knowledge, skills and professionalism of registered radiographers, the higher education sector must attract highly educated, motivated, experienced and skilled clinical radiographers to take up the challenge in higher education. The higher education sector must offer a pay and benefits package which will attract the calibre of clinical radiographers that we require. The Society of Radiographers implore you to support this composite motion.
Terry Bladen (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) speaking in support of Composite Motion 12 said: The rate of participation in post-16 education and training in this country falls well behind that of other OECD countries. It is therefore vital that urgent action is taken to tackle the causes of disaffection amongst young people. The government at last appear to recognise the problem and accept the need to reform the 14 to 19 curriculum. However, we are concerned that they will continue to be blinkered by the concept of academic A levels being the gold standard, with other qualifications being the poor relation.
There is an urgent requirement for the establishment of alternative learning pathways that will enthuse and encourage many more young people, no matter what their social and economic background, to re-engage with the education process and so realise their full potential. High quality vocational qualifications and training must be developed and recognised by both employers and higher education, that although different carry the same currency as A levels. Other countries in Europe seem to be able to do this and it is essential that we also do it.
Yet even if the issue of curriculum and qualifications are dealt with in an acceptable way, there still remain far too many hurdles on the path of participation -- financial and economic barriers being a major issue. Many talented pupils are put off, and who can blame them when they see a future of debt in a country that is supposedly the fourth richest in the world? It is therefore imperative that the government build upon the educational maintenance allowance so as to provide a proper level of financial support for young people who continue their learning beyond the age of 16, and this includes dropping top-up fees.
Despite the views of the Tory press, the state education service is a success with annual increases in the success rate of the existing examinations, and we do not need any help from the private sector in improving this further. Their only interest in the education service is to make profit for their shareholders.
My message to the government is reform the 14 to 19 curriculum and qualifications, provide students with a proper level of financial support and let us deliver the world class education that our young people deserve.
Congress, please support the composite.
Mary Bousted (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) supporting Composite 12 said: It is through education that doors are opened, horizons widened and possible futures imagined. Yesterday the President made reference to the social partnership achieved for the government and the unions representing teachers and support staff, working together to implement the workload agreement. Congress today supported Motion 45 on this agreement.
Through its Teaching to Learn campaign, ATL is aiming to extend this concept of social partnership into a professional partnership between the government, teachers and lecturers. It is now time for the government to acknowledge that they do not have all the answers to the complex problems of education, and to accept that they need to consult with and listen to the profession. The Teaching to Learn campaign will be a good place for the government to start. The key message of this campaign is that too many young people are being disenfranchised by a curriculum that does not inspire them, does not challenge them and does not change them. The campaign warns the government that the current emphasis on tests, targets and tables has led to a narrow curriculum, particularly in primary schools, which too many children find repetitive, constraining and uninspiring.
We now have an education system which seems to assume that if pupils do not get it right the first time round, then they have failed. We know that early evidence of failure too often blights future achievement, and this is particularly true of students from lower socio-economic groups who have less confidence anyway that the education system is something they can succeed in and which they will benefit from. Quite simply we are writing off far too many children and young people far too early. Let us be absolutely clear, we are not going to achieve a concept of lifelong learning in this country, and we are not going to achieve widening access to FE or HE, if we have children aged 7 who believe that they are failures.
The government's micro-management of the education system has resulted in over work and increased teacher stress as the profession has striven to implement every bright idea from the No. 10 Policy Unit. The figure of 25 per cent of young teachers who leave the profession after only three years should haunt the government. It is a massive waste of talent and resource.
So what do we want to do? These are our aims. We seek to enable teachers and lecturers to regain a sense of confidence in their professional knowledge and skills. We seek to promote the development by government of an education policy that is underpinned by research and is open to constructive criticism. We seek to reduce the impact on pupils and students of the current oppressive testing regime. Finally, we say to the government that educational standards will rise only when the government commit themselves to a meaningful, professional partnership with their greatest educational resource, their teachers and their lecturers.
Congress please support this motion.
Peter Pendle (Association for College Management): I want to focus on the final section of the composite motion that considers older learners.
In 18 years' time, in 2021, the over-55 group will constitute 40 per cent of the UK population, 20 million people. I am afraid that in 18 years' time most of you will fall into that group! According to recent research about a quarter of all adults are currently in education, but older learners participation in education is worse than half that rate; only one in 9 is currently learning. Forget the stereotype of what older learners like to study, these are more likely to be studying modern languages than any other group of learners and no other group is more interested in learning in how to use a computer.
Older learners are the neglected cohort in the equal opportunities and social inclusion debates. Perhaps this is understandable. Politicians write their education policy and investment options in terms of the balance of economic, political and social returns forecast for them by their officials. Resources invested in policies will generally be expected to yield economic and political benefits. Social impact alone or individual personal development will not win resources. Politicians think that the individual benefits of promoting learning for older people may be considerable but the economic and considerable returns are relatively small when compared to investing in people with longer working lives ahead of them. This is a blinkered view and politicians underestimate the returns on improving the participation of older learners. They are far from negligible and as that cohort of the population expands numerically and relatively, due to earlier baby booms and improved longevity, so the returns on investing in older learners will increase.
About one-third of unemployed people over the age of 50 would like to be in work. Finding work benefits not only individuals but transforms them into net contributors to the economy. Yet people in this age group looking for a job often need to reskill or update their skills, particularly where, as is often the case, their joblessness is due to a decline of a traditional occupational sector.
Learning in later life is positively correlated with healthy, active, independent ageing. People in their fifties and sixties enjoy better health and activity levels than earlier generations due to higher living standards and improvements in healthcare provision. However, the last years of our longer lives are characterised by poor health and dependency. There is now a good deal of evidence that continuing to learn in later years is positively correlated with better health, both physically and mental, so use it or lose it.
Colleagues, please support the composite.
Paul Mackney (NATFE): NATFHE stands side by side with the AUT and the other university unions in seeking to defend public sector higher education, in opposing top-up fees and the restrictions of government-funded research for a few universities. These issues affect the families and friends of virtually everyone at this Congress because 43 per cent of the population now go to university. We support the government's intentions to expand that to 50 per cent and to broaden its participation to include students from poorer backgrounds. We recognise this has to be funded, but we are totally opposed to the government's current proposals for differential top-up fees. These will enable universities to charge up to £3,000 a year for a course, and hardly anyone thinks that the £3,000 limit will hold.
Top-up fees will put people off, particularly poorer people, and differential fees will lead to first, second and probably third class universities. The only new group that will go to university will be dimmer and dimmer members of the upper middle classes. The rich will get into the most expensive courses at the premier funded institutions, while bright working class students have to make do with what is available locally because they cannot afford to leave home. It is an upstairs/downstairs policy.
We say that access to higher education should be based on ability to study, not ability to pay. This is the reason why so many labour MPs, and 170 MPs in all, have signed a motion opposing top-up fees, which the Labour Party of course promised not to introduce at the last election. Still smarting from the low turnout in the last election, these Labour MPs know that top-up fees are a vote loser.
The TUC has been very careful in recent years, some think over careful, not to do things that will allegedly hand votes to the Tories. New Labour's top-up fees proposals shovel votes to the Tories even though they would hold back expansion and keep higher education as a middle class preserve. Graduates are now coming out with debts of £10,000 to £12,000. These would double. It is a total nightmare if you have more than one child. People should not have to take out a second mortgage to pay for their first degree. Charles Clarke says where is the money to come from? There is no alternative, he said last week. We have heard that before. Firstly, they could save a bit of money from the defence budget. Our members say that if they can find money for an illegitimate war in the Middle East, they can afford to pay for colleges and universities.
But the main answer is progressive taxation. Progressive taxation is the passport to a civilised society. For this reason, support the NUS on 26 October when they demonstrate in London because Charles Clarke and his Ministerial colleagues are charging over the cliff and, unlike Walt Disney characters, they do not have the power of imagination or the warring legs to keep them from plunging to the abyss below.
President, may I disabuse you and thank the Beard Liberation Front for their awarding me the TUC 2003 award for best beard!
Lesley Ann Baxter (British Orthoptic Society) supporting the composite motion said: I am a clinician, I am an older learner and I am clinical teacher. I work in the NHS dealing with defects in vision.
In line with previous speakers, we agree that the NHS relies on the higher education sector to deliver high quality undergraduates. We need these students to be well rounded individuals, capable of delivering a high quality service. These young people will need the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat their patients when they qualify, but they also need to be individuals capable of compassion and understanding as well as having the ability to continue their education after they graduate.
The staff in higher education, as well as in clinical placements, need the resources to accomplish this. As clinicians, our training involves research and we agree with previous speakers that research facilities should be available to all students regardless of the university they attend. The higher education sector needs the resources to provide students with high quality education, and anything that would jeopardise their career prospects or have a significant impact on the NHS plan must be opposed. We need to have well-rounded clinicians in the NHS, who have been taught to the highest standards with all the facilities -- such as research and access to lifelong learning -- that they require to keep them in a worthwhile career in the NHS. The emphasis must be on the quality of teaching provided by the higher education sector.
Please support this composite motion.
Anne McCormack (UNISON): UNISON is pleased to support this composite because we have always opposed tuition fees and will continue to fight against the introduction of top-up fees. Access to higher education should not be based on ability to pay. Education is a right, not a privilege, whether you are 8 or whether you are 80.
We are also pleased to support many of the other points made within the composite. The call for national pay bargaining structures to be maintained is vitally important, and the need for parity of funding and of pay between those working in FE colleges and sixth form colleges is an ongoing struggle that cannot be allowed to go unnoticed.
I do not have much time at the platform -- thank God because it is terrifying up here -- so let me focus on just one issue. Top-up fees. Fees deter people from going to university. They do not bring extra money into higher education. They deter those least able to pay and they deflect from the real funding issues. Let us learn from the example of tuition fees. They have already stopped young people from going to university, put off by the prospect of £25,000-worth of debt. It is those least able to pay who have stopped applying to universities. Only 27 per cent of those at university come from poorer backgrounds, and the proportion is going in the wrong direction. Does anyone think that top-up fees will make that better?
The government tell us that the number of applications from poorer backgrounds is increasing, but what they do not tell us is that the increase is slower than the rise in the total number of applications. Between 1996 and 2001, the number of application from poorer students increased by only 3.8 per cent, but the overall number of applications increased by 8.7 per cent. Let us not kid ourselves, fees do not mean new money. The government have admitted as much. The £400 million raised from students paying tuition fees since 1998 has, in their words, displaced public spending, so what guarantee is there now that, with high tuition fees, the government would not make further cuts?
Do not let the government tell you that students must pay because they inevitably earn tens of thousands pounds more over their lifetime as a result of their education. If graduates are fortunate enough to earn a high salary, assuming they do not take a career break to have a family, work part-time or take work in the public sector or personal services, they pay back almost £90,000 more in income tax over their lifetime. I would say that is more than sufficient to cover the cost of their degree.
Society benefits from higher education, society benefits from world class universities and we all benefit when our children can go on to get the best education and training. That is why HE must be funded out of general taxation. Please oppose top-up fees and support this composite motion.
* Composite 12 was CARRIED.
The President : I now call Motion 54, which the General Council support.
Rob Thomas (NAPO) moved the following motion:.
(Insert Motion 54 - Childrens Minister)
He said: Children -- everyone says the right things about them, they are our future we must invest in them, look after them, but naturally we all have very different views of what children mean to us. We have all been there but we now have an adult's take on what it was like to be a child. That, by definition, makes it difficult for us to understand properly the day-to-day experiences of childhood.
The media plays an important part in the way we look at children. Those of you who were able to watch Harry Enfield's comedy programmes will doubtless remember the teenager Kevin. As a parent I found myself all too easily finding uncanny similarities between that demanding self-obsessed teenager and my own sons. Sorry boys! Sadly, large numbers of adults have Kevin in mind whenever they think of children. They just put them in the awkward category and never see them as vulnerable. My was Kevin vulnerable!
That is one of the reasons why my union believes that children deserve all the representation and protection they can get, and that extends to having separate Children's Commissioners and a Children's Minister with the necessary clout to achieve parity for them around the Cabinet table.
Firstly, let me say a little about Children's Commissioners. The Celtic nations got there first and have already established Commissioners for children. Although I am really pleased to hear that the government have decided to appoint an English Children's Commissioner -- nice to see them anticipating Congress's every move -- those responsible for that decision deserve the congratulations of this Congress. However, if we are to avoid the marginalisation of this office we need to support all the objectives of the staff working in this field. These are the mains aims that the Commissioner in Wales works towards, safeguarding and promoting the rights of young people, making sure that the young people are aware of their rights under the UN Convention The Rights of the Child, promoting children's participation in decisions that affect them, making special efforts to make sure that the voices of groups of marginalised young people are heard and their views acted upon, reviewing the monitoring arrangements for children's complaints about advocacy and whistleblowing, and finally helping to change public attitudes towards children.
In furtherance of these aims the Commissioner's staff have objected to the excessive testing of children in our schools. I am sure our colleagues in teaching unions will support that. They believe in tackling poverty by, amongst other things, the provision of extra youth work facilities. Our colleagues in The Community and Youth Workers' Union must support that. We believe in strongly respecting what children say.
Members in my union who write reports on children for the Family Courts, know just how important that is, as do UNISON members, social workers who work with young people and their families. This motion calls for the present Children's Minister, Margaret Hodge, to consult more widely so that she can gain a better understanding of the nature of the problems facing children in British society. There can be no better time than now for her to start talking to representatives of children's services. The Minister's post was created less than three months ago. This event was not expected; there was no forward planning and as a consequence there was a lot of confusion. The Ministry is located within the Department of Education and Skills, but in the vital area of administration of the courts the responsibility is located within the Department of Constitutions Affairs, a completely new Ministry created at roughly the same time. So we have two brand new Ministries with one powerful Cabinet Minister, Charlie Falconer, and one not so powerful certainly more junior Minister outside. Cabinet level for this Minister will be vital to secure adequate funding and help establish the child trusts announced yesterday.
Trades unions can also assist Cabinet Ministers with these tasks. My union, NAPO, represents workers in the Child and Family Court Service, otherwise known as CAFCASS. Our members prepare vital and important court reports to assist judges who make crucial decisions about where children live and what members of their family have contract with them. Our members also attempt to mediate between parents who are in dispute over the future of their children. They work for a service that is very young. The first 30 months of the new service have been difficult, to say the least. Underfunding is a huge problem. We estimate that for 2003 the full budget is probably £6 million short out of the £9.5 million in total. Because not enough money was spent, there was a lack of office space. Staff have no integrated IT system and struggle to recover information on six or more unrelated ad hoc systems. There is still no case management database and no comprehensive plans to computerise the case records of children. There are staff shortages --150 professional staff out of a total establishment of only 1200.
What all this means is that children are getting a raw deal. Because of staff shortages there are serious delays over court reports being presented and we have our own versions of waiting lists. In the middle of all this are our members. They are regularly threatened by service users. In the past groups such as Families and Fathers have resorted to vocal campaigns and letter writing. Staff have experienced naming and shaming and in August unnamed persons sent more than 1060 suspect packages to CAFCASS officers. The worry was that these were explosive devices.
There is a lot for the new Minister to sort out. Members in our union are ready and willing to sit down with her and share our strategy for bringing about decent services for vulnerable children in the U.K.
Please give us your support for this motion and also your support for pressing for change.
Chris Tansley (UNISON) seconding the motion said: We are slightly hijacking the motion with the knowledge of NAPO. The role of the Children's Ministry is just one part, as I am sure people have seen, of the widest ranging changes in statutory childcare provision since the introduction of Social Services Departments back in 1974. For many of us, like myself, who have long involvement in difficult and demanding work in childcare and child protection, we knew before the tragic death of Victoria Climbie where the weaknesses were and where the dangers existed in the work we did, from the savage under funding of our work during the bleak Tory years and the first period of office of the current government to the failure of agencies to work effectively together and the lack of available information and the children at risk across local authorities.
UNISON has been vigorously campaigning for some time now about the growing crisis in social care: the dangers of high vacancy levels, the demoralisation of workers and the effectiveness of the service they provide for vulnerable children in our communities. Our submissions to the Laming Enquiry reflected all these concerns, and we are pleased that the final report took many of our comments on board.
We equally welcome the general thrust of the Government's Green Paper, published yesterday, especially the commitment to keep the responsibility for child care in the democratically accountable framework of local authorities. We support joint working initiatives between agencies. Indeed, many authorities like my own have been doing this for some time already and we welcome the introduction of local children's boards with statutory power to ensure agencies do work effectively together. Where we have serious concerns are with the speed with which these wide-ranging changes are now being brought in. We owe it to the vulnerable children in our communities who we are charged to protect and support that the systems that we put in place, that will last over the next 25 years or more, are workable and effective.
The government have only just announced the establishment of 25 Children's Trust areas on a pilot basis across England. We want to continue the work they started to do and to learn from their experiences about what the best and what the worst approaches are. We also want to ensure that the resources that go with the proposals are adequate, and that it is new money not re-directed existing funding. We want to ensure funding is automatically made available to authorities and not subjected to the usual lottery bidding process that has existed. We also want to see whilst agencies have a joint approach to working with children that the primary responsibility for child protection will remain with social workers trained and experienced in this work. We all want to make sure that the tragedies of children abused and killed by those who should care for them are prevented by the best systems we can devise. We owe it to those children that we get it right.
Please support the motion.
· Motion 54 was CARRIED.
Ballot Results for the General Purposes Committee and the General Council
Julia Lewis (AMO, Chair of Scrutineers) presented the Scrutineers Report.
(Insert Ballot Results for the General Purposes Committee and the General Council)
The President : May I thank Julia and her fellow scrutineers for all the hard work that has obviously been involved in conducting that election.
Conference adjourned for the day at 5.30 p.m.
Report (52,500 words) issued 1 Oct 2003
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