Socialist Worker

Trade unions—act, don’t just talk

Issue No. 2691


The annual publicity campaign is inadequate (Pic: PCS Union/Twitter)

Heart Unions Week—the TUC union federation’s annual publicity campaign—this year focuses on challenging sexual harassment at work.

This reflects how the #MeToo movement has pushed challenging systemic sexism to the top of the agenda.

Heart Unions Week also has the usual goals of ending low pay, scrapping anti-union laws and increasing union membership.

All that together is laudably ambitious—and winnable if there’s a proper fight. So what’s the TUC’s plan?

Well, fighting sexual harassment means asking the Tories for a “legal duty requiring employers to take all reasonable steps to protect workers”.

Rebuilding union membership and fighting problems at work can be done with a street stall and a photo for social media.

If you want, you can “ramp up action in your workplace” with a lunchtime meeting.

All of which is totally inadequate in the wake of three decades of attacks on workers by Tory and Labour governments—and the scale of the assault to come.

Before last year’s general election, union leaders had the excuse of waiting for a Jeremy Corbyn government. Labour failed, and now the excuse is gone.

Defending ordinary people needs more than words and polite campaigns—it needs action.

And that means a return to strikes on a much bigger scale

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