The election of a Conservative Government for 5 more years was a devastating blow for trade unionists. Already the Government has announced a further restriction on the right to strike, imposing a minimum service agreement on transport workers. We have no expectations that the Government will scrap Universal Credit, outlaw zero hours contracts or make any real difference to the living standards of working class people, which have been in decline in real terms since 2010.
Following Labour’s defeat, there has been much talk about the need to “re-engage with our working class communities.” Trade unions will have a very important role to play in such a project. UNITE Community has already begun this work and in 2020, along with other trade unions, may find new ways to support and speak for less well-off families. Our Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise campaign has been exposing the appalling low pay in our city, including exploitation, bullying and sexual harassment of low paid workers, many of whom have little expectation of ever finding a decent job with good pay and conditions, let alone a proper pension.
In 2019, Sheffield TUC launched a new initiative with BFAWU to hire a union organiser for the city, paid for from donations from the trade union movement. For the first time for many years, we have been reaching out to unorganised workers in the fast food industry and elsewhere, bringing the message of trade unionism and hope to workers. We shall shortly be announcing an expansion of this role as it becomes a full-time post with the appointment of a new union organiser.
Sheffield TUC will not be defeatist after the 12th December election result. There is much to do, standing up for workers and their families, opposing racism and discrimination, and fighting for justice and fairness in our society. Please join us to make Sheffield TUC even more effective as a force for good in 2020. We will need your support and active involvement like never before.
So please do take a well-earned break and enjoy Christmas and New year with your friends and loved ones. And then come back fighting in 2020. Together we can and will make a real difference!
Martin Mayer Bob Jeffery