The last four days have made me more proud than ever of our movement

Published date
12 Sep 2018
From challenging the government’s Brexit shambles to building unions fit for the next 150 years, this anniversary Congress will go down as one of our best
Frances O'Grady
Our 150th Congress is over - thank you again for all your support and see you next year.

It’s hard to believe but Congress has already come to an end for another year.

The last four days have made me more proud than ever of our movement.

From challenging the government’s Brexit shambles to building unions fit for the next 150 years, this anniversary Congress will go down as one of our best.

We’ve taken on the big issues that people care about. We’ve called out big business and government for what they’re putting workers through. We’ve celebrated our own successes but been honest about where we need to do better. And we’ve set out clear campaign priorities for the next year, which looks likely to be another tough one for working people.

I want to thank every delegate who attended this year. Your dedication to building a better movement for working people is an inspiration to us all.

I also want to thank all our keynote speakers.

Our outgoing president Sally Hunt’s address on Sunday taking us through the 150-year history of the TUC perfectly caught the mood of our anniversary Congress.

NUS President Shakira Martin’s speech on Monday on inequality in education was a brilliant rundown of the challenges students face.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s speech yesterday on Labour’s plans to redress the power imbalance between bosses and workers gave us hope that things will get better for working people once Theresa May and her ‘do-nothing’ government are shown the door.

And today the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby delivered a speech rooted in concern for the most vulnerable in society and a belief in social justice. He paid tribute to the great advances of the last century and a half, won by the determination and vision of working women and men in trade unions.

I want to thank him especially for speaking truth to power on zero-hours contracts and the ‘gig economy’. As he said, these things are nothing new, but “simply the reincarnation of an ancient evil”.

His powerful words reminded us of our historic and moral mission as trade unionists.

So as we look ahead to the next 150 years, we must renew our commitment to tackling inequality, reversing austerity and making the world of work a fairer place.

The TUC is where unions come together on the issues that matter to us all.

Over the next year, our first campaign priority will be winning for more workers. Because the only way to reverse extreme inequality and get wages rising is to get more people into unions. 

We will also continue our campaign for a new deal for working people – a deal that ends insecure work and creates jobs that offer a chance at a better life. Because we believe that every job should be a great job – and everyone should be able to work with dignity and fairness.

Our third priority for the coming year is to rebuild a country that works for working people, after Brexit. The UK economy is rigged against the interests of working people. A ‘no deal’ Brexit will only make that worse, risking good jobs and hard-won rights at work.

So as we close our historic TUC 150 Congress, I want to reiterate our commitment to the values that have built and sustained our movement for the last century and a half.

150 years ago, unions met in a small room in the Mechanics Institute. Today we are still fighting for working people with the same belief that we’re stronger together. And that same spirit of hope and determination.

Thank you again for all your support – and see you next year!