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In 2018, we can heal the divides in our country by making sure everyone has a great job

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2018 will be a landmark year.

Together, we’ll mark 50 years since the Race Relations Act outlawed racial discrimination in employment, housing and services. We’ll celebrate the 70th birthday of our treasured NHS. And we’ll recognise that 100 years ago some women won the right to vote (while of course many working class women had to wait another ten years).

These were all battles where trade unionists played our part – and proof that, acting together, we can change the world for good.

At the TUC, we’ll be marking our own anniversary: 150 years since a group of trade unionists came together in Manchester, to make sure working people had a strong, united voice of our own.

All year we’ll be sharing stories from the first 150 years of the TUC. We hope they’ll surprise, move and inspire you.

150 years on, the world of work is changing fast. In this digital age, we know that workers acting together is still the best check on rapacious capital. We think the best way to honour the spirit of those TUC pioneers is to rebuild a trade union movement fit for the next 150 years. And that means finding new ways to organise a generation of young insecure workers.

But throughout, our values are constant. Trade unions want every job to be a great job. Fair pay for every hour you work. Respect and decent treatment. Guaranteed hours – and plenty of notice if your shift changes. Somewhere that’s safe to work. A chance to get on in life. And – underpinning it all – a democratic voice at work through your union.

In 2017, real wages fell – and they’re still lower than they were when the financial crisis hit in 2008. 2018 is set to be bleaker still: it looks like UK wages will fall the furthest of all advanced economies. On current projections, average pay won’t recover until 2025 – a full 17 years after the pay squeeze began. One in ten working people are in insecure work, not knowing what hours they’ll work or how much they’ll earn this week.

So in 2018, we’ll keep campaigning for an economy that can deliver a payrise for everyone. We’ll push to stop the worst exploitation, like zero hours contracts. We’ll argue for more and better jobs, in every region and nation of the UK. And on 12 May we’ll march together to demand a new deal for working people.

As the UK gets ready to leave the EU, we want a Brexit deal that puts jobs and rights first. Trade deals like CETA don’t protect workers’ rights, set up special courts just for corporations and make it harder to bring rail back into public ownership. So instead, we want all options on the table, including keeping us in the single market and customs union, and we’ll keep fighting for the deal working people need.

As the last few years have made clear, there’s no better way to heal the divides in our country than by making sure everyone has a great job that they can build a life on. So my wish for 2018 is for a growing movement of working people, demanding better jobs and an economy that works for everyone. It’s as vital in 2018 as it was in 1868.

I wish you, your families, friends and workmates good health, happiness and success in 2018 and always.

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