Today marks the end of the Trade Union Congress in Blackpool. It was a Congress that reflected the mood not
seen since the hey-days of the miners' strike of 1984-85. Since that time, we have had a decade and a half of
"new realism" and policies of (class) "collaboration" or "partnership", epitomised by the likes of Sir Ken Jackson,
ex-general secretary of the AEEU. Now a wind of change has hit the trade union movement.
Strikes in Britain are at their highest level for thirteen years and the
trend is upwards. The recent council workers' strike involving over one
million people was the largest strike by women workers ever seen in this
country. Fire fighters have voted unanimously at their recall conference to
ballot for strike action over a 40% rise in pay! If this takes place, it
will be the first national strike in 25 years. Rail and tube workers, who
have their own disputes, have threatened to refuse to work on grounds of
safety if there is no fire cover. The general public, according to a recent
Guardian/ICM poll, appear to sympathise with them. The days of workplace
"servitude" seem finally to be coming to an end.