The Beast from the East snow storms which hit Britain did not prevent the 12th Solidarity Annual Conference held on the 3rd of March, 2018. Many members, however, had their travel plans disrupted as trains were cancelled. Necessity being the mother of invention our general secretary and other members who could not get to the venue in London joined via live videolink.
In his opening address our general secretary, Patrick Harrington, noted the successes of the Union since the last Conference. He pointed to the many tens of thousands of pounds won in settlements for our members and our people kept in jobs as a result of the hard work of our network of committed representatives. Pat Harrington also stressed that the Union existed to serve its members. That was its key purpose. He pointed out that whilst the Union held positions on political issues affecting its members it was non-Party political and did not have a political fund.
Our President, David Kerr (pictured), focused on Brexit:
"As we enter the coming year, we see the combined forces of big business and bought-and-paid-for ex-politicians attempting to sabotage or derail our country’s exit from the neo-liberal anti-worker European Union. They may yet succeed in their schemes. We welcome the courageous stance of our brothers and sisters in the RMT, NIPSA, the FBU to continue to back a workers’ Brexit.
There are already encouraging signs that some British workers’ pay and conditions are starting to rise, as some EU nationals are wary of taking low-paid jobs in the UK. An entirely inevitable consequence of the EU’s free movement of labour was a ready supply of cheap labour leading to wage stagnation, the loss of hard-won conditions, and rising inequality in a race to the bottom.
We have an opportunity to change direction. British workers won their rights by their own efforts; they were not gifted to them by Brussels bureaucrats. However, Solidarity and other unions must continue to struggle to ensure that proper wages and working conditions are not eroded in post-Brexit Britain. We will not allow our country to become an offshore tax haven and billionaires’ playground like the Cayman Islands."
Conference condemned discrimination in the workplace in all its forms and voted for a campaign opposing discrimination against all people based on the "protected characteristics" under the Equality Act 2010
The characteristics that are protected by the Equality Act 2010 are:
- gender reassignment
- marriage or civil partnership (in employment only)
- pregnancy and maternity
- religion or belief
- sexual orientation
Following the decision of Conference the Union has already began this campaign with ads and briefings to members and Reps on Race discrimination. Training resources are being made available.
Pat Harrington commented: "It's been challenging to get this Conference working. At times it seemed that everything that could go wrong had. Working together we've been able to overcome the obstacles. That's what our Union is about. Whatever challenges we face we work to resolve together. I'm so proud of our Union family drawn from all faiths and backgrounds but united in a common purpose. We can really boil that purpose down to one word - Justice. Our members may be diverse in background but that social zeal and unity of purpose binds us together. Through our relations with each other we act as a template in microcosm for how our society should be - we demonstrate that a better world is possible. Say it loud and say it proud: 'together we are strong'."
Conference also passed a range of other motions and a separate report will follow. One Executive member, Clive Jefferson, was removed from office for non-attendance at Executive meetings over a long time period without any reasons being provided.