“Solidarity & unity can bring us through” – John McDonnell at #TUC2022


“The rich are getting richer, we’re not even getting the crumbs of the cake.”

Steve Gillan, POA General Secretary

Chaired by UCU President Janet Farrar, the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group event on Striking Back together on Wednesday at #TUC2022 was a good illustration of the wave of Trade union militancy sweeping through the movement, writes Matt Willgress, Labour Outlook.

Arguing that “Transformation happens when we begin by understanding,” economist Ann Pettifor opened the event by giving a highly informative account of her thinking on the causes behind inflation, including international factors, and the different (but disastrous) economic ‘solutions’ being put forward by different wings of the ruling elite.

In terms of a way forward, we need to call for fundamental change of the international financial system and real controls.

Featured image: Ann Pettifor addresses the TUCG fringe at TUC Conference October 19th 2022. Photo by Labour Outlook

POA General Secretary and TUCG Steve Gillan condemned “spivs and speculators for casino gambling with whole economies,” whilst ordinary people – including his members – are suffering deeply.

“The rich are getting richer, [and] we’re not even getting the crumbs of the cake,” which is why more and more unions are taking action for a decent pay rise, including in the public sector.

Our movement will win moving forward through “co-ordination of action and standing together.” 

Natasha Hirst, NUJ Vice-president, spoke of their recent dispute at Reach, a company that owns regional, local and national titles including the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.

She said more and more people in the lowest paid sectors of journalism simply “couldn’t afford to live.”

The action moved the management in this case, but campaigning and organising for better pay and conditions will continue.

In a rousing contribution, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka argued that “we are meeting at a time that feels very different” to previous TUC Congresses. Currently, there is “a genuine believe that workers can win.”

The way forward is clear – real co-ordination and planning as “we would all benefit if we were coming together to make sure our actions are complimentary, and putting maximum pressure on the Government…and defeat the Government’s austerity measures.”

John McDonnell MP was the final speaker, emphasising the importance of the recent wave of actions and the work the TUCG dues on parliament to secure support for our unions.

He opened by saying we need to be clear that Jeremy Hunt’s austerity 2.0 is coming and will be “on a massive scale.”

Featured image: John McDonnell addresses the TUCG fringe at TUC conference on October 19th, 2022. Photo by Labour Outlook.

We need to ensure this level of benefits upgrade and defend the pensions triple-lock.

Additionally, “Big bang 3.0” also means a massive wave of deregulation and the encouragement of reckless speculation, meaning “the casino economy is back.”

Then there is the Public Order Bill. This will impact on trade unions as well as demonstrators, and represents a major attacks on our rights to assembly, freedom of expression and protest.

As John said, “We’ve got to wake people up to that threat.”

He concluded by arguing that the way that Labour wins in the situation going forward “is about giving people hope and inspiration.. now is the time to start coming out with the vision of a country we want to create,” including through a new deal for workers.

We also need to “turn up and support those in struggle at the moment,” which can further help give people the confidence, enthusiasm and hope needed.

He concluded with a clear message for everyone coming out of #tuc2022 – “solidarity and unity can bring us through.”

  • The Trade Union Coordinating Group fringe event on “Striking Back Together” was held at the Trades Union Congress 2022 on October 19th, 2022.
  • If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles in the UK and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.
Featured image: Mark Serwotka PSC General Secretary addresses the TUCG fringe at TUC conference 2022. Labour Outlook archive photo

Leave a Reply