Look Ahead – Unions at Conservative Party Conference

Diversity - Red and BlueThe political conference season has so far been highly successful for unions: From the defeat of regional pay in a vote by Liberal Democrat delegates, to coalition building motions on housing, child poverty and a national investment bank – and a rule change on selecting more working class candidates to be MPs, at Labour.


Though there will be some opportunities presented by the Conservative Party conference, it will be for the most part a time to assess some of the threats facing unions and their members. The TUC rally on Sunday coinciding with the conference will be an important prelude to the national demonstrations against austerity in London and Glasgow on Saturday 20th October.


On Monday a fringe on Trade Unions and Conservatism does not include any trade union representatives on the panel. Panellists include Aidan Burley MP, and two others associated with the Trade Union Reform Campaign TURC.


The TURC’s aims include the scrapping of the learning fund that has helped thousands of working people achieve qualifications. The format will be repeated in a later second session Trade Unions and the Taxpayer with the addition of Eric Pickles, who launched the TURC earlier this year, and Liam Fox.


Meanwhile the TUC and SMF are debating prosperity and growth at a fringe at which Frances O’Grady will speak. The NUT has a reception, and NASUWT are hosting an event titled ‘Educating the Working Classes’ at which their General Secretary and Nick Gibbs MP will speak.


Rather than on the fringe of the conference, it will be the speeches of Ministers in the main hall that help unions to assess whether the Conservatives have followed the advice of MP Robert Halfon and moved away from ‘union bashing’. This seems sadly unlikely though, at a time when scape-goats for the country’s economic problems are in short supply, and a tempting distraction from divisions in the Party.




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  1. [...] 10/10:  The Guy Fawkes blog reports that at one of the TURC meetings trailed earlier this week, Eric Pickles spoke of “recommending” Francis Maude’s [...]

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