Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work – 2019 -2020

The programme of work is developed by the TUC Joint Consultative Committee (TUCJCC)  each year based on the decisions made at the most recent Trades Union Councils conference.

The theme for 2019-2020 is  to Protect Jobs, Defend Living Standards and to stand up for equality and fair treatment at work for women, BME workers, LGBT workers, disabled workers and young workers. The programme sets out a positive vision of trade unions as we know them to be: a democratic force for fairness in the modern workplace. The Programme  highlights the role that trades union councils play in developing and promoting trades unions and in campaigning on the core values of the TUC and the trade union movement.

In it’s introductory statement to the Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work for 2019-2020 the TUCJCC explains that

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Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils – 2018

Trades Union Councils logo

At the 2018 Annual Conference of Trades Union Councils Bristol was represented by Sheila Caffrey. Her report of Conference was presented to the July meeting of Bristol Trades Union Council which approved the report and the actions. The report can be found below.

As I had never attended before, I wasn’t sure what to expect… I was pleased to discover a weekend that was motivating, interesting and full of representatives who were trialing lots of ideas to build and develop their local Trades Councils.

Motions and discussions around deaf workers; fracking; zero-carbon industries; Football Lads Alliance, spying and blacklisting. There also was a big discussion around Heart Unions week. Everyone was in favour of the principle; however, many were questioning the timing and the literature produced.

There were two ‘workshop’ sessions that delegates chose. I chose to go to one about building Trades Councils and one about the campaign ‘Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise’. Both sessions allowed plenty of time for questions and discussion, which I thought was a good balance with the whole-conference sessions with speakers and motions.

Speakers included TUC organiser for the North West, who had clearly built a lot of activities around marking the 150 years of the TUC; Liz McInnes, a Labour MP and the BFAWU organiser for the McDonald’s workers. It was extremely interesting hearing from him how they had used a mixture for traditional methods and new different ways of reaching workers, which led to a strike by 47 workers getting a 6.5% pay rise for 1000s of workers from one of the most well-known companies world-wide!

I also attended a ‘womens’ reception’ Saturday evening, which through a mix-up in ordering, had two bottles of wine each for us! The idea of supporting and encouraging women delegates in a place that is still mainly male-dominated though I thought was a good idea.

Of course, the idea of attending conferences is to bring back ideas and to think how we can build, so I’ve highlighted key ideas below with my suggestions on how what other Trades Councils have done could benefit us in Bristol.

Points of Inspiration and Questions for Bristol Trades Council

Getting more people to meetings:

This was key theme in the building session, but also a discussion that clearly all trades councils are having. In Bristol, our numbers attending are certainly not the lowest; however, many small trades councils appeared to have been successful in building larger meetings and providing a popular and effective working-class hub for local TU branches. The most successful ones appeared to have done this in an organised and structured way, starting with inviting a speaker from all affiliated TUs and asking them to bring along a couple of members. Following this, they repeated this with TUs which aren’t affiliated. This sometimes had been through asking regional officials to speak but also asking them to bring along members. Alongside this, had been a mapping exercise of local branches and large workplaces (both unionised and un-unionised), which allowed them to contact activists, but also offer support to unions for un-unionised places. As Trades Councils should be campaigning and organising on issues that affect all workers, many have also opened their doors to invite in community campaigns, student campaigns and other activists. Although, these wouldn’t have voting rights, they could still be welcomed at meetings to help build a solid network of support to all workers. I thought these ideas sounded really interesting and ways in which we could develop in Bristol.

Suggested action:
  • Map workplaces across Bristol (Sept-Nov);
  • Invite two unions each meeting to have a 15-minute sharing slot for the next 6 months to see if it increases turn-out.


Four campaigns especially stood out for ones that could be developed by Trades Councils, rather than just supporting individual unions’ campaigns. It had become a key focus of the Trades Council work and pulled in activists from unions as they saw the Trades Council as somewhere that organised and fought for workers.

  • Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise sounded an excellent campaign and one that affects all workers. They are happy to share their literature they created, and we could amend it with local facts if it was something we wished to take up.
  • Refugee Rights is an organisation that many Trades Councils had affiliated to and invited speakers from. This could be an excellent campaign to link with, cutting across racist ideology and companies that try to divide their workers on these grounds.
  • Supporting un-unionised sectors/’workplaces’ e.g. Bakers Union is one that we have supported in Heart Union week and one that we could develop further.
  • Stress and mental health is a key issue in all workplaces and something we could campaign around. This could involve convening a meeting for unions or providing training. There is also currently a Mental Health sub-committee in the SW TUC and a conference in Nov in Birmingham, which we could also investigate supporting.>

Suggested action:
  • Choose a campaign to develop as a Trades Council to support other unions and to increase our active delegate base;
  • Invite a speaker from Refugee Rights and look to affiliating.


I think we have greatly increased our visibility and communication with workers in the last few years, and this is an issue that other Trades Councils have also clearly been battling with. One of the key ways that Trades Councils had done this was face-to-face with regular street stalls in different areas and ensuring their banner was at all local political events. Some had been successful at increasing on-line visibility through websites, Facebook and Twitter. This mainly worked when existing networks had grown and so those people then shared things on-line. Some wrote short reports of meetings (not just minutes) which were sent to all unions with photos and encouragement to attend a future event. Others had also had success with socials such as a Banner Theatre production or a film viewing.

Suggested action
  • Send short monthly reports to unions to include on their agendas;
  • Organise at least 2 street stalls before the end of the year around a key campaign;
  • Ensure events that are discussed at the end of each meetings has our banner there if any delegates are present;
  • Consider organising a social event.


Background information about Trades Union Councils can be found here A guide to trades union councils

Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work – 2016 – 2017

The theme for the Trades Union Councils Programme of Work for 2016 to 2017 is ‘Protect Jobs, Defend Living Standards’. It sets out a positive vision of trade unions as we know them to be: a democratic force for fairness in the modern workplace. It highlights the role that trades union councils play in developing and promoting trades unions and in campaigning on the core values of the TUC and the union movement.

The key areas of campaigning for the year are:

  1. protecting workers’ rights to strike, promoting trade unionism and building union organisation;
  2. setting out the case for a high investment, high productivity economy with great jobs and skills at its heart;
  3. making devolution and decentralisation work for people;
  4. reaching out to young workers;
  5. support and campaigning for the Welfare Charter
  6. fighting racism and fascism

This programme of work has developed by the Trades Union Councils’ Joint Consultative Committee (TUCJCC) to ensure that trades union councils can identify their part in TUC campaigns and help implement the resolutions passed at the 2016 trades union councils conference.

The Trades Union Councils’ Programme of Work – 2016 – 2017 can be found here

Trades Union Council Annual Conference – 2015

The national Annual Conference is organised by the Trades Union Councils’ Joint Consultative Committee (TUCJCC). The TUCJCC acts as an advisory and consultative committee on all matters concerning trades union councils.

The Conference discusses resolutions and amendments submitted by County Associations, Bristol is a County Association in it’s own right, and draws up a programme of work outlining key priorities and campaigning objects for trades union councils.

This year’s Conference was held in Crewe at the Crewe Alexandra FC between 13th and 14th June 2015. The agenda for the conference can be found here Trades Union Council Annual Conference – 2015

The main debates at Conference centered around the governments attacks on PCS and TU Organisation including the extension of Anti-Trade Union Laws. The conference also elevated the importance of fighting to defend welfare and the fight against austerity and the Trans-Atlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). One of Bristol’s delegates has written a fill report which can be found here – Trades Union Council Annual Conference – 2015

At the conference a presentation was made to Andy Robertson, Secretary of Bristol Trades Union Council, who was standing down after 18 consecutive years on the Trades Union Councils’ Joint Consultative Committee. Well done Andy – See you on the next demo, protest picket line!

Full coverage of the Conference was given in the Morning Star

Labour hopefuls urged to repeal Tory anti-union law

Trades councils support PCS against government attacks

Trades Councils Conference: Working class champions ‘must ignite movement’

Trades Councils Conference backs voice of workers

An article by Tom Mellish, secretary of the Trade Union Councils Joint Consultative Committee, appeared in the Morning Star on 13th June 2015 highlighting the importance of Trades Union Councils by describing them as

the trade union voice in the community is as important as ever. The capacity of trade union councils to provide a local response and to organise trade unionists into coalitions with other progressive forces is crucial.

They do this by providing services which keep local trade unionists up to date with developments within the wider trade union movement, and by taking up relevant local industrial and community issues.

Trade union councils bring together unions to campaign around issues affecting working people in their workplaces and local communities. Today trade union councils campaign as part of the TUC’s A Future That Works campaign.

The full article can be read here The lifeblood of all resistance