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Every year more people are killed at work than in wars. Most don't die of mystery ailments, or in tragic "accidents". They die because an employer decided their safety just wasn't that important a priority. International Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates those workers.
This year’s event is made even more poignant due to the work-related loss of life due to the COVID Pandemic.
This year the Scottish TUC conference was from 19 to 21 April, all online. I’ve attended hundreds of conferences over my twenty-year union career, but probably none of them have kept me so engrossed or had evoked my unwavering interest as much as this one.
Since then, I’ve tried to break down why this conference was so special, and I’ve discussed this with colleagues who also attended and felt the same.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reasons for its success this year are as follows:
The keynote addresses, opening the conference on Monday, were delivered by three of the very inspiring women who are leading the trade union movement.
Frances O’Grady – TUC General Secretary
Roz Foyer – Scottish TUC General Secretary
Mary Senior – Scottish TUC President
Each of these leaders made strong, direct, focused speeches that also delivered on interest, relevant content with clarity, passion and enthusiasm.
We were left inspired and in no doubt what issues they were talking about and the solutions they are seeking. All speeches were passionately made by someone who truly believes in what they are saying, and I believe they will do everything they can to make the changes they want to see happen.
Not only were the motions current and relevant, but there also seemed to be a far better balance of gender, within the speakers, than in the past. I felt stories were more relevant, speakers calling on their own life experiences, as opposed to statistics, which enabled them to bring their address to life, making it believable, easily understood and importantly a story you could relate to and support.
There was less repetition from the speakers, in most cases just a proposer then a seconder. Again, so refreshing not to have a number of speakers repeat each other one after the other. Perhaps it’s the discipline of online conferences that naturally enforces this? Nevertheless, certainly a positive for me.
Throughout the three days, intermittently, but more noticeable on the final day, it was great to hear from so many young trade unionists who all delivered their address with the awe-inspiring confidence of a seasoned newsreader.
Their speeches were focused, direct, accurate, easy to listen to, made so much sense, delivered with so much confidence, articulation, and belief.
It all bodes well for an exciting new era of modern trade unionism. We must capitalise on the way the STUC conference organisers and delegates made this conference such a huge success.
Aegis the Union