TUC Congress: Union majority backs Ukraine solidarity motion

Trade unions support 'financial and practical aid' for Ukraine

Unions have supported a Solidarity with Ukraine motion calling for the ‘unequivocal’ condemnation of Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, however elements of the motion did not get the backing of all Congress.  

Forwarded by the GMB union and with backing from ASLEF and the National Union of Mineworkers, the motion called for trade unions to back ‘moral and material aid, including the means of Ukraine’s self-defence’ and ‘financial and practical aid from the UK to Ukraine’.

The motion also supportd the, ‘immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territories occupied since 2014’ and ‘a peaceful end to the conflict that secures the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the support and self-determination of the Ukrainian people’.

Mark Serwotka of the PCS spoke of his, “unequivocal support for those currently suffering occupation by a brutal Russian invasion” although said there were flaws in the motion.

“It would be a major mistake not to send solidarity to the people of Ukraine. We do believe the composite is flawed and have reservations of the original one. We are with the Ukrainian people and for Russia out, only the people of Ukraine should decide what the outcome looks like.”

The original motion backed Britain’s armament of the Ukrainians, which was dropped.

“Our solidarity must know no borders,” said the GMB President, whilst Unite backed the motion and said “wars are never in the interest of working people”. A number of unions abstained from voting.

However The Fire Brigades Union opposed the motion, expressing support for parts but did not believe ‘in the escalation of war’ and said the motion only served to ‘align us with the Tory government’ and with military support efforts.

Stop the War campaign group had urged trade union delegates to oppose the motion. They said the resolution ‘supports escalating the war’ and supports the ‘Tory government’s war policy in Ukraine’.

 They wrote: “Instead of calling for escalation, the labour movement needs now to join the international calls for people negotiations, ideally preceded by a ceasefire. The British government has opposed such a policy, and worked all out to obstruct it, from the outset.”

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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