One hundred and fifty years ago, our movement gathered for its first ever Congress in Manchester.
We return to this great city this year to celebrate a century and a half of working together to change the world of work for good.
Today, our mission feels more important than ever.
With just over six months to go until the UK is due to leave the EU, the government has failed to negotiate a Brexit deal that meets its own red lines, let alone one that protects the jobs, rights and livelihoods of working people across the UK.
Over the last year, internal Conservative party politics have trumped the national interest in the Brexit talks.
Sackings and resignations have made it impossible for ministers to agree a negotiating position with themselves – never mind with our EU partners.
The result is a government that is sleepwalking towards crashing out of the EU without any deal at all.
That would be catastrophic for workers already suffering from rising prices, the longest pay squeeze in two hundred years, and the most dismal decade for growth on record.
And Brexit has become all-consuming for this government. But while ministers pontificate, ordinary people continue to pay the price for a financial crisis they didn’t create.
Millions of working people still struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table for their children.
Many young workers have know nothing other than short-term insecure work.
And many hardworking public servants still haven’t had a proper pay rise for eight years.
Our job is to stand up for working people whatever happens in Westminster.
At such times of uncertainty, we take inspiration from the achievements of our movement over the last one hundred and fifty years.
We remember the courage and pioneering spirit of trade unionists who refused to accept second best for workers and who fought for the rights and institutions that protect us all today.
Many of them also lived through extraordinary times. They rose to the challenges of their era – as must we.
The best way to mark the TUC’s 150th birthday is by making our movement fit for the next 150 years.
The world of work is changing fast and we need to adapt.
A new generation need our help to win workplace justice.
And our vital public services need us to stand up against privatisation and for proper funding.
Celebrating a birthday is about looking forward as much as looking back.
That is why Congress this year will focus on the future as well as the past – on how we can prepare workers for a changing world and a secure them a better deal at work, help young workers build the skills they need to thrive, and fight for a society that roots out racism, sexism and discrimination wherever we see it.
If the history of our movement teaches us one thing, it is that trade unionists never sit back and accept the status quo.
Over the last one hundred and fifty years, we have always stepped up and won for working people – and we will again.
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