The Green Party Trade Union Group has continued to grow in 2023, albeit less active than last year. Members have used our resources to back campaigns like the RMT’s to keep ticket offices open and we have proposed a series of worker-friendly policies to Autumn Conference. A summary of our activity so far this year is provided below.
Elected in December 2022 this year’s Committee took time to get up and running and many members have struggled to keep the momentum up with GPTU alongside other work and GP commitments. We have lost two committee members in recent months, but have still held fortnightly committee meetings and – no doubt thanks to the continued prominence of UK trade unions and industrial action – our membership has increased from 460 at the end of last year to 706 now.
Our Members meeting at Conference will be on Saturday 7th October (5.15-6.30pm). Any questions can be sent to the Committee via Robert (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We have held three full members meetings this year. At the first we heard from Hannah David, Vice President of PCS trade union and UCU member Cllr Nicola Day (also a GPTU Committee member) about ongoing national industrial action at each. The second focused on Conference policy motions GPTU might propose, (detailed below). At the third we heard from Peter Krakowiak, a Unite rep at St Mungo’s homelessness charity (and Chair of Enfield Green Party), about their ongoing 11-week strike.
Throughout the year we have undertaken to support strike action as it continues across the UK. The @GreenPartyTU account continues to show a constant stream of Green Party activists and representatives showing solidarity at picket lines and supporting headline union demands such as a £15 minimum wage.
We have produced dedicated resources in support of the RMT ticket office closures campaign, and many members have brought our posters to demonstrations and promoted support for the campaign locally, giving us a strong stance on the issue.
The Amazon workers strike in Coventry, a milestone walkout as part of a global day of action, was also subject to a GPTU blog following support from members close to the dispute.
Early in the year the Committee had a number of discussions to help Matthew Hull as TULO identify policy gaps and priorities for the early stages of the manifesto drafting process. This fed into two members’ meetings where we discussed motions to propose to Autumn Conference, with a particular view to filling manifesto gaps and strengthening the Green Party’s public stance on trade union rights ahead of a General Election. GPTU has now submitted the following motions:
- The Green Party’s ambition to build stronger bonds with trade unions
- Strengthening Rights for ‘Gig Economy’ (Platform-based) workers
- Fair pay through collective bargaining
We have also agreed to give support to the following motions:
- Four day week (Currently ruled out of order by Soc)
- New deal for carers
- Opposing the Anti-Boycott Bill
- Allowing All Special Interest Groups to Propose Motions
- Enabling the Disability Group to fulfil its role in the party
We successfully began work this year to build networks for specific trade unions within the Green Party. We surveyed GPTU members to improve the data we hold on their membership – Unite is the most represented, followed by NEU and then Unison. Matthew Hull ran two meetings for Unite members, inviting them to discuss how they could organise as a network within the Green Party (e.g. building solidarity throughout the party for Unite disputes) and also within Unite (e.g. by standing in internal elections). A separate email list now exists for Unite members and we aim for this to become a self-organising network for sharing info and support.
The Committee would also like to see trade union membership as one of the optional questions put to new members on their joining journey. This would not only collect important data to help GPTU organise, but show new members that trade union relations are important to the Green Party and its vision of a just and democratic society.
Trade Union Liaison Officers
A number of Trade Union Liaison Officers are already in place in regional and local parties in the Green Party, as well as our national TULO. One objective for the Committee this year was to establish a record of people in those roles, expand them to more local and regional parties, and provide guidance and resources on how to work as a TULO in a local context.
We have surveyed most regional parties and now have a good list of where TULOs exist. At our last members meeting we discussed what GPTU members thought TULOs could do in their area and how they could be supported. The next step is to convene existing regional TULOs to discuss their approach to the role and how GPTU can help. We expect to progress this before the end of the year.
Alongside Matthew Hull as TULO we have also worked with the party’s new Policy and Communications Officer to increase engagement with TUs nationally and at leadership level.
Another initiative is the network for Green councillors which was first established last year. This remains a dedicated whatsapp group, where Councillors can share best practice and successes, and ask questions. We still have the ambition to host a workshop for councillors but haven’t had the capacity to run this yet.
The membership of the Group is now at 706. This is up from 460 at the end of last year and 200 the year before.