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TUC Congress Conference

by Martin Chalk BALPA General Secretary

I attended my first TUC Congress in person on behalf of BALPA last week, seeking to learn from the deep understanding of union activity available from our TUC colleagues and to influence the direction of those items which affect BALPA members.

Attacks on the ability of unions to represent their members industrially, attacks on the security of permanent, protected employment and the need to eradicate systemic prejudice from recruitment, promotion and management policies; all are amongst the issues which affect BALPA members, but are best addressed at a national level in concert with our sibling unions of the TUC.

In line with most large organisations, the annual congress sets the direction for the organisation for the following years. As examples, BALPA supported resolutions to:

  • oppose the ideologically driven attacks on the ability of unions to deliver for their members,
  • to ensure the workforce is included in plans to decarbonise our industries and
  • for the TUC to support unions to ensure diversity and inclusion in workplaces as they work with employers, for members and as employers.

The hollowing out of health and safety inspectors has seriously weakened the regulations written to protect us all – including BALPA members – as without enforcement, regulations lose their bite.  BALPA supported a resolution to direct the TUC to press the Government to ensure H&S legislation is properly enforced.

Following the abhorrent firing of P&O mariners by zoom call, the TUC is also called to ensure both this Government and the next is held to account if they fail to ensure employment law is effectively enforced, before wholesale fire and rehire becomes endemic across our industrial landscape. BALPA has had our own first hand experience of fire and rehire tactics and supported the TUC resolution to oppose such immoral and socially destructive management practices.

The Congress is also a great time to take forward some of the issues which affect BALPA members more than other employees, with networking access to many of those who may be allies or may form future Governments. Deepening relationships with the other union leaders, which represent our colleagues from across the civil aviation industry, enables the resolution of many issues quickly and simply.

This year’s Congress also had a strong political flavour. BALPA is apolitical, neither supporting nor funding any particular political party. We always seek to work with both the Government of the day and the opposition parties to best serve the interests of the membership. As an example, BALPA abstained from the controversial debate to support the manufacturing sector as it contained a provision which supported an increase in defence spending, and a motion to oppose the relocation of the Israeli embassy.

Days at Conferences are inevitably long and packed with issues, but for a little investment, they can provide huge value for BALPA members. If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact me.