The TUC’s job is to stand up for everyone who works for a living, and to help unions to grow and thrive. And just as workers benefit by joining together in a union, so unions gain strength by acting together through the TUC.

All of the TUC’s policy development and campaigning work is decided with the involvement of TUC member unions. This happens both formally through Congress and the TUC’s committees and conferences, and informally, through small task groups and discussions with unions working in a particular industry or sector. 

What the TUC does to support unions

The TUC briefs member unions on economic, equalities, workplace and social policy, and on trends in the workplace and economy. We engage with the government and political parties as they develop policy, responding to consultations and attending meetings on behalf of the union movement. And we run movement-wide campaigns on key issues that affect all unions – such as the 2016 Trade Union Act.

The TUC co-ordinates union representation on public bodies and supports ongoing formal discussions with government, such as the joint forum for government and unions with members working in the public sector. We also co-ordinate the UK trade union delegation to the ILO, a body of the UN, and to international and European trade union bodies. We also speak on behalf of the union movement in the media.

Every year, the TUC trains thousands of union reps. And we manage government funding for unions to support their members into training through unionlearn.

We support the professional development of staff who work for unions, through formal training and through best practice events. We run a number of informal networks for trade union staff in similar jobs – for example, legal officers, HR officers, political staff and communicators. We also run the annual trade union communications awards.

We help unions to grow, running organising training and working alongside unions to develop their recruitment and organising strategies. Through our Going to Work site, we help individual unions run digital campaigns targeting the customers of companies, as a complement to their organising activity. And we run the flagship Reaching Young Workers programme on behalf of the movement, investing in innovation and new models of trade unionism to bring young private sector workers into our movement.

We support our member unions with the urgent task of developing digital capacity and leadership, and modernising to meet the challenges of the changing world of work. And we help unions avoid clashes with one another and seek to resolve disputes (for example, where two unions try to recruit the same workers).

TUC disputes, principles and procedures

The TUC Code of Practice incorporating the Principles governing the relations between unions sets out the framework for unions to work together, and to avoid damaging resource-consuming disputes.

This revised Code requires unions to notify the TUC of any applications for statutory recognition as well as any proposed single union agreements being reached on a voluntary basis. It also requires unions to respect existing representation rights in organised workplaces. The Code allows the TUC to conciliate where there are differences between affiliated unions and, if that fails, to use the more formal process of a Disputes Committee to resolve the matter.