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To the TUC and beyond

14 September, 2012

Author: Warren Town

Shooting star

And so the show is over for another year and trade unionists across the UK have returned to their respective offices, workplaces and homes to continue the fight.

Was it all worth it, was it all in vain or was it just another expression of solidarity that happens every year?

Well, it was a bit of all of these things. A year without the TUC, no matter if this is England, Scotland Wales or Northern Ireland, is a year that is all the poorer for the trade union movement, the media and the public.

Unlike the party conferences, there are always speeches to stir the faithful, worthy causes to support, injustices to fight and egos to massage. [Actually the latter is one aspect of congress that is shared with party conferences.]

If you think that a TUC is just about policy, you are sadly missing the point. Policy is important but so too is theatre and passion. The speeches and the motions before conference show we care and they express to the public at large that we are not just about opposing Government or protecting members’ rights but about promoting a wider social consciousness.

In this respect, the SoR is just like any other union in the hall. We have a social conscience, a social awareness and a responsibility to promote a healthy lifestyle, challenge discrimination and raise public awareness of the injustice that others less fortunate than us suffer and who do not have a platform or profile for free speech.

The SoR key debates on the plight of patients who suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and the injustice of the latest care reforms, and the discrimination in schools that children and staff suffer simply because they are different in the eyes of others, must be just as important as the failures of the education system and the watering down of employment rights. We are health care professionals who care and if we display an insular and parochial attitude to our work and ignore the wider injustice in the community, we are all the poorer for it.

Will we be back at the TUC in Bournemouth next year?  You bet - this congress and our wide and varied agenda, opens the eyes of others in the media and within the TUC to the fact that we do have a social conscience and we have something to contribute to the development of society and can raise public awareness about a wide range of issues.

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