Five CSP delegates joined hundreds of trade unionists at the leading trade union conference at the 155th annual TUC Congress, held in Liverpool. All our motions passed unanimously.
CSP regional steward and chair of employment committee, Jill Taylor, made a rousing speech about the damage to the public and patients due to the disinvestment in public services. She said: ‘Health and care services and their workers are on their knees.
Unable to adequately meet the challenges of today…with an ageing population and the rise of complex, long-term conditions bearing down on all of us.’
Jill emphasised the impact of health inequalities on life expectancy and stressed how post-code lotteries and levelling up agendas affect access to healthcare.
Stress, burnout and work-related ill health
Regional steward Helen Fitzgerald highlighted that over a third of NHS physiotherapy staff feel burnt out from their work, with a further 40 per cent having experienced work-related stress in the previous year.
She called for ‘workers to be brought to the heart of health and safety risk assessment and decision-making processes alongside clear, top-level commitments to take a positive and constructive approach to union negotiations.’
Covid-19 public inquiry
Regional steward Mike Mander spoke to Congress Hall about working conditions at his workplace during the height of the pandemic and the importance of submitting evidence to the Covid-19 public inquiry.
‘Were it not for the intervention of trade union support, we were minutes away from senior management withdrawing all PPE use from all staff with immediate effect.
‘This led to PPE working groups being set up with trade union representation at all levels to ensure staff were protected. These are the stories that need to be heard in the independent inquiry.’
Heidi Rolfe-Hill, CSP regional steward delivered a powerful speech to congress.
She shared her own experience of domestic abuse and highlighted that 6.9 per cent of women and girls aged 16 and over – 1.7 million – experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022.
She further highlighted the need to ensure Black, Asian, and minority ethnic, disabled, migrant, older and LGBTQIA+ survivors need their own specialist support.
Heidi told delegates that: ‘Despite ratifying the International Labour Organisation’s convention on violence and harassment, the UK government has rowed back from making amendments to the Equality Act, that could help tackle cultures of sexual harassment at work and make the world of work a safer and more inclusive place for all.’
Marginalised communities suffer most from climate change, pollution and loss of nature.
Safety rep Sam Grover delivered a powerful speech to congress on the climate breakdown and its health consequences.
Sam said: ‘A diverse and accessible natural world is essential for pharmacology, physical activity, mental health and respiratory health.
The loss of public open spaces limits access to physical activity, worsening the global surge in non-communicable diseases.
‘We endorse initiatives taken towards Net-Zero, and ecological recovery. But we also insist that workers are central to establishing, implementing and tracking these initiatives.’
Justice for Colombia
Members of the CSP delegation, alongside the chair and vice-chair of council, met with Justice for Colombia and the president of the Colombian trade union federation ‘Central Unitaria de Trabajadores,’ Fabio Arias Giraldo.
CSP director of employment relations, Claire Sullivan said: ‘It was a real privilege to meet the Fabio.
‘As a long-time supporter of Justice for Colombia, we are delighted to hear about the moves towards sustainable peace in the country following the election of a new government.
‘Nevertheless, Colombia remains the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade union activist and we will continue our support for Justice for Colombia and trade union colleagues facing abuse and injustice globally.’
Anti Racism Tracker
In 2022, the CSP were one of many unions who signed up to the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce Manifesto.
The taskforce, launched in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Covid-19 pandemic, spent two years hearing the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic workers across the UK and in 2022 produced a manifesto, setting out what trade unions and the TUC will do to secure the economic and social justice of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
During the conference, the taskforce announced an Anti-Racism Tracker – a live resource for all union members to understand what progress their union has made, but also what they should be prioritising in each area of work. The tracker will provide suggestions and outline next steps, as well as sharing examples of where unions are leading the way.
CSP delegate Jill Taylor said: ‘This was not the first time I have attended TUC Congress and it was once again a really positive experience.
‘Our delegation was fantastic. Most were speaking at the conference for the first time, and in front of so many trade unionists. They were really confident and articulate.
‘Our contributions brought both workplace and professional physiotherapy issues to the attention of wider trade union movement. Between the main event and fringes we heard and engaged with fellow trade unionists and allied organisations raising some really important issues facing working people in the UK, and internationally.
‘We were really pleased that the CSP chair and vice chair came to Liverpool to see the conference and our contributions for themselves. CSP staff support was great.
‘It is rightly said that unions are among the most democratic bodies in the UK. TUC Congress is the annual parliament of our trade union movement. I recommend it to all CSP members.’
No place for prejudice and discrimination in our workplaces
TUC president Maria Exall spoke about her year in her role as president and her commitment to trade unionism and equality.
Maria said: ‘We bring people together with respect and solidarity. Unity is strength, an injury to one is an injury to all.
‘We are calling for all trade unions to support the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce, Sexual Harassment Working Party and the Trade Unions for Trans Rights Alliance.
‘Every working person is entitled to be treated with dignity.’
TUC Congress and CSP
The TUC represents the interests of 48 trade unions and their members in the UK, including the CSP.
The TUC Congress is the annual gathering or conference where representatives from affiliated trade unions come together to discuss and debate various issues related to workers’ rights, employment conditions, and wider policies affected workers and their families.
The CSP also sends delegates to the TUC equality conferences that focus on issues specific to black, disabled, LGBTQUIA+, women and young workers. If you are a CSP member and are interested in being part of these CSP delegations get in touch with Siân at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CSP and other attending unions also set the agenda for the trade union movement in the coming year and adopt resolutions and policies that guide the actions and campaigns of the TUC and member unions.
The conference provides a platform for trade unions to collectively address and advocate for the concerns and rights of workers. It typically involves speeches, workshops, debates, and the sharing of information and strategies and this year it was no different.
The CSP ran a fringe event on flexible working with Gingerbread (the charity for single parent families), and trade union organisations RCM, FDA and NASUWT. About 30 TUC delegates attended. Each organisation spoke about their membership and experiences of flexible working, which highlighted that the NHS represented best practice, although it was far from perfect.
National officer Siân Caulfield, speaking for the CSP, highlighted the importance of flexible working on: recruitment and retention, patient care and staff motivation and feeling supported. She also spoke about the value of trade union reps in supporting members making flexible working requests assisted by our ‘Building a Better Balance’ resource.
A moment for us to come together
President of the American AFL-CIO union Liz Schuler spoke about the power of internationalism: ‘From Los Angeles to Liverpool, we have the same shared struggles within trade unions across the Atlantic, and internationally. Issues such as the rising cost of living, job insecurity, worries about the future, and lack of power in the workplace.’
Schuler stood in solidarity with the British trade union movement against the Minimum Service Levels Bill, affecting the right to strike.
She also spoke about the attacks on trade union organising, and the impact of artificial intelligence across many sectors in the US.
‘As global unions, we have a symbiotic relationship,’ she said. ‘This is a moment for us to come together, learn together and grow.’
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