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Green Party moves forward on trade union solidarity

As we look back on Autumn Conference it is worth recalling the positive steps that were made. This is not just a matter of policy motions but the involvement of trade unions in conference itself.

The main policy gain was over support for shorter working hours and within that access to a four day week. The key paragraphs in the adopted policy are:

*Under the Green Party, the full time working week will be reduced to 35 hours in the short term and 32 in the medium term. In the medium term, workers will have a right to request these reduced hours at no loss of pay and without detriment. The Green Party will develop pilot schemes, monitoring and effective support, for small to medium sized businesses and public sector institutions, during the process of transition to a shorter worker week.

*All employers will be expected to agree flexible working arrangements for those with family and caring commitments, and/or to permit the workers to fulfil their hours over a four day week, unless the work is such that distributing duties in such ways is clearly impossible or harmful. Decisions concerning exemptions must be agreed with the relevant trade union.

Unfortunately conference time was at a premium and the motion to strengthen the Green Party’s ambition to build stronger links with trade unions was not heard but this ambition was evidenced by events at the conference.

John Maloney Assistant General Secretary of the PCS union urged Greens to engage in trade unions struggles saying that we have to bring trade unions with us in the fight for the right to strike for climate justice.

Safe Landing, a group of Aviation workers campaigning for a sustainable future for their industry attended and networked widely. A positive review of their conference activities can be found on their website HERE.

Patience Bamisaye and Antonia Berelson of the RCN and Phil Clarke Vice President of the NEU took part in a GPTU discussion on the struggles of public sector workers. Patience spoke of the ‘callous’ treatment of NHS workers from overseas: ‘They are putting people’s lives at risk. It is not right. It is not fair. Something has to be done.’

Phil called for support for the repealing of anti-strike laws to enable unions to improve their pay and conditions: ‘When governments come for us we need to be able to defend ourselves.’

The NEU who have been one of the most supportive unions at our conferences, running a regular stall and a fringe, held a meeting on the sector’s recruitment and retention crisis. The meeting was led by Daniel Kebede the NEU’s new General Secretary amd it was clear that the union’s positive relationship with Vix Lowthian our Education spokesperson would continue. Our approach to the recruitment crisis and broader issues were closely aligned – although we go further with Ofsted calling for abolition rather than reform of the body.