TUC Congress 2021: Motions passed on Day 1

Support for the cultural sector and investment in public services and pay, are among the motions already approved in Congress 2021.

The 153rd annual TUC Congress kicked off yesterday and runs online until September 14. A series of motions were passed on Sunday, which will shape Trade Union Congress (TUC) policy for the following year.

Here are the motions passed on the first day of the union confederation’s conference.

The climate emergency, defending jobs and a just transition

Recognising the climate emergency as the gravest threat currently facing humanity, Congress approved the ‘climate emergency, defending jobs and a just transition motion’, which was received from GMB and Prospect.

Congress notes how 800,000 UK manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 15 years and the number of renewable energy jobs is falling. This is on top of this is what Congress refers to a “disappointing lack of progress in securing the next generation of nuclear power.”

Congress believes that tackling global warming requires a co-ordinated international response, rather than the tearing down of our industries. It says the government must work to protect British goods and jobs and there needs to be a balanced energy mix that includes renewables, nuclear and the flexibility currently provided by gas.

Rail cuts, climate change and a post-pandemic recovery

Also passed yesterday was the ‘rail cuts, climate change and a post-pandemic recovery motion’, which was received from ASLEF and the Transport Salaried Staff’s Association (TSSA). In the motion summary, Congress notes how the government intends to cut £2bn from rail industry support, potentially leading to at least 10,000 railway jobs losses.

In light of this potential threat to rail jobs and services, Congress is calling on the General Council to campaign for more rail investment, not cuts.

Support for the cultural sector

Put forward by Equity and Musicians’ Union, was the ‘Support for the cultural sector’ motion. Congress points to how before the pandemic, the creative industries accounted for more than two million jobs across the UK and contributed to around £112bn to the economy.

Regardless of such success, the sector is beset with precarious employment, long working hours, low pay, harassment and discrimination, all of which was exposed by the pandemic.

Congress is calling on the General Council to expand investment in arts and culture and ensure that public funding for the sector meets minimum agreed standards and pay and employment.

Invest in public services

Received by GMB and Unison was a motion calling for the investment in public services. According to Congress, the coronavirus pandemic has “highlighted brutally the damage that a decade of austerity and underinvestment in public services and inflicted.”

In light of the severity of the impact on staff, who have been faced with job cuts, ruthless fire and rehire measures, and councils being forced to withdraw and scale back local services, Congress is calling on the campaign for fully funded public services to meet the needs of the current and future UK population to be continued.

Progress must also be made on public sector pay, ending the pay freeze and paying all workers a “decent, living wage commensurate with our skills and contribution to society,” says Congress.

Increasing membership in the private sector and mobilising for a New Deal for all workers

Received from Aegis and Communication Workers Union (CWU), this approved motion calls for this generation of trade union leaders and all trade unions to campaign and take action together in pursuit of shared industrial and political demands.

Congress agrees the New Deal mobilisation plan with be agreed by the General Council by October 2021. The pledge commits the movement to addressing challenges and urges it to be taken a stage further by implementing a series of steps, including a dedicated budget and resource to support and work with affiliates to help achieve increased membership in the private sector.

Columbia government violence; justice for Colombia

Received from POA and the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union, the ‘Columbia government violence; justice for Columbia’ motion recognises the Columbian people’s commitment to human rights, peace and social justice through trade union-led, national strike protests that have mobilised millions of people.

Through the motion, Congress is calling on the British government to review security and trade partnerships with Columbia’s response to human rights abuses.

Decarbonise and decolonise in the fight for climate justice

Raised by the University and College Union (UCU), Congress resolves that the TUC should campaign for education for sustainable development to be embedded across the education system and trade unions by 2030. This will ensure all young people and adults are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to understand climate change and respond to its impact on communities, industries and economies.

Health regulatory reform

Believing that health regulators should remain fully accountable to the public and the professions which they regulate, the ‘health regulatory reform’ motion moved by the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) was approved by Congress on Day 1 of the conference.


Received from the National Education Union, the Palestine motion upholds Congress’s solidarity with the Palestinian people following the latest attacks by Israeli state forced on the people of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the occupied territories.

Congress is now calling on the UK government to work towards a full and lasting peaceful solution to the conflict. It is urging the General Council to reaffirm policy to “boycott the goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction for the Wall.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a freelance journalist and contributing editor to Left Foot Forward.  

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