Nineteen locally based Trades Union Councils from around Britain took up the invitation to attend a meeting called by The People’s Charter last weekend.

 
The invitation, personally endorsed by Bob Crow, the chairman of the Trades Councils national body, the TUCJCC, and circulated by the TUC, asked them to come with ideas for putting “flesh on the bones” of the TUC’s advice that Trades Union Councils should work closely with the Charter on developing work locally against the ConDems “austerity” measure and for “The Alternative”.
 
The Charter was overwhelmingly endorsed at TUC Congress 2009 and has 16 individually affiliated national Trade Unions.
 
The meeting was a lively affair, kicked off with an introduction by Pat Sikorski, Assistant General Secretary of RMT, Bob Crow having had to attend two important RMT events and sending his apologies.
 
The discussion focused on the need to build a real movement a local “grass roots” level – recognising the central position of Trades Councils in this, bringing together unions from across the private and public sectors, and building bridges into the local communities.
 
The meeting identified the rapid increase in job loss and unemployment in both private manufacturing industry and in public services as a major area demanding attention and action. Youth unemployment and “precarious working” were recognised as particular areas for such action.
 
The meeting agreed various important steps to be taken, including a proposal that the TUCJCC should be approached to encourage all 176 Trades Councils in Britain to co-ordinate action on unemployment  - “For jobs, skills, industry and public services”. It envisaged demonstrations, public events, conferences, occupations and other activities appropriate to local conditions, to take place in the early part of 2012, and in the run up to the Trades Councils annual conference in May.
 
The meeting anticipated further national demonstrations and co-ordinated strike action, and agreed strongly that local action of the kind discussed would help build a sustained movement at local level.
 
In the words of a delegate from Birmingham Trades Council, “ We need a movement that involves people around the country in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and which is there day in, day out – sustained and active and refusing to go away. Such a movement would be unstoppable.”