Posted on Thu 22nd December 2011 by admin2
Since 2009 and the creation of the County Durham Unitary Authority, there has been an urgent need for a Trades Union Council which matches it. Informal discussions have been going on for some time in and around Durham about ways in which trade union members can achieve more of a representative voice within the council and the county more generally. At the same time, after a long period of decline, Trades Union Councils across the UK have been seeing a resurgence, with particular success stories in the North West, the Midlands and London. In County Durham there is the chance to emulate some of these successes, with trade union reps and activists working together with the many community, student and campaign groups in the county.
In early November, the new County Durham Trades Union Council was formed. Officers were elected and initial priorities were set at a meeting on the 2nd of November. As a group of trade unionists representing a range of unions including PCS, Unite, GMB, NUT, and UCATT, we resolved to be an inclusive organisation, which seeks to work with other Trades Union Councils in the county and the region, the County Association of Trades Councils and the Public Services Alliance (PSA). There was a determination, also, that the County Durham TUC would be an avowedly non-sectarian space, where trade unionists would work together for common aims and in a comradely manner. The newly formed organisation would make concerted efforts to build alliances with community campaigning groups in Durham City and the wider county.
At the first meeting, it was decided that as a limited first aim, the County Durham TUC would encourage sympathetic students involved in the fees campaign in Durham to support the November 30th strike action. After a bit of publicising the pickets and action, this was indeed what happened – and the resulting solidarity action made the front page of the ‘Northern Echo’, with accopanying colour photo. This is a small start, but nevertheless an example of the sort of alliances we want to build and the strategy we want to follow. The emphasis here will be on activity – it was felt that while business and administration had it’s place, but shouldn’t dominate the operation of the Trades Union Council.
We are now looking forward to building on this encouraging start during 2012. To really establish ourselves, we need the support of trade unionists and community campaigners in County Durham. We would encourage people to contribute in whatever way they can. If you would like to subscribe to the County Durham TUC email list, come to our meetings or talk about affiliating your trade union branch, please contact the secretary, Ben Sellers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning him on 0191 384 4399 (daytime). There is much to do, that is clear, but if everyone works together, this will be a very important development for trade union partnership in County Durham.