Safe Landing at TUC Congress 2023

15 Sep, 2023

Safe Landing members attended the 2023 TUC Congress (10-13 September, Liverpool) as visitors.

The TUC Congress is the annual conference where the great majority of trade unions in the UK – including unions representing hundreds of thousands of aviation workers – send delegates to debate policies and campaigns.

For thoughts on why the workers’ movement, particularly unions, is so important for climate struggle, check out our recent guest blog by Daniel Randall.

You can read the motions and statements that TUC Congress discussed and voted on here. The motions on climate issues were good, but not very strong, and some pressing issues were avoided. There was, for instance, not even the limited debate on new fossil fuels that took place at Unite the Union’s conference. That may reflect the fact that, at the TUC, where motions come from national trade unions, it’s harder for grassroots union members to push issues onto the agenda.

At the Congress we distributed a leaflet introducing Safe Landing and spoke to dozens of delegates and visitors, including aviation and other transport workers.

We attended and spoke in a fringe meeting on the PCS union‘s proposal for a “National Climate Service” (pictured above), chaired by the Greener Jobs Alliance‘s Tahir Latif, former air traffic control worker and PCS Aviation Group President. We used the opportunity to raise a range of issues, including the idea of “Workers’ Assemblies” to develop worker-led industry decarbonisation plans. We’re really interested and excited by the idea of how such a process could lead to far more involved, robust and long-term industrial strategies being developed by the government / civil service. These would make best use of public spending, ensure that the state avoids greenwash and back truly sustainable ‘winners’ for subsidies, and deliver genuinely green economic development – alongside associated long-term job security for workers.

We also attended a fringe event organised by ASLEF, RMT and TSSA unions on green transport. There is a need for much greater links and coordination between workers across aviation, rail and other forms of public transport to push for holistic and integrated transport policies.

Finally, we spoke to a number of people who’ll be organising at Labour Party conference in October, from grassroots activists to MPs. We plan to be there too. Safe Landing isn’t party political – we’ll be doing things at other party conferences as well. Our principles are to develop collective consensus group positions on aviation-related policies and push for these across all reaches of politics, civil society, trade unions, academic institutions, professional institutions and the media.

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As anybody attending the TUC Conference will tell you: when people unite, organise and mobilise through collective action: the sky really is the limit!

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