In an electrifying speech at the TUC Congress, the federation's general secretary, Paul Nowak, outlined a significant diversity initiative aimed at increasing union membership and ensuring that representatives better reflect the modern working class.
Despite a robust year for unions characterized by numerous victories and considerable media coverage, Nowak lamented the stagnating union membership. He emphasized the gap between youth support for union campaigns and the actual numbers joining.
“To address this, our reps need to mirror today’s working class,” Nowak declared. As a decisive move in this direction, he announced that the TUC would commence the training of at least 500 new black activists annually. This initiative is designed to not only bolster membership but also to champion diversity within the union’s ranks.
Nowak's speech, marked by personal reflections and impassioned rhetoric, received a standing ovation from Congress attendees. He didn't hesitate to critique the current political landscape, strongly denouncing the Tories' stance on immigration and their recent Illegal Immigration Act. Drawing from his personal history, with grandfathers hailing from Hong Kong and Poland, he conveyed a poignant message, stating: “The real enemies of the working class in this country don't arrive in a small boat, they fly in by private jet.”
His solidarity with migrants was evident as he proclaimed, “Every migrant is my sister, my brother.” He lambasted the government for turning its back on individuals fleeing dire circumstances, noting that the nation's values stand in stark contrast to the government's recent actions.
Mr. Nowak also addressed what he sees as failures on the part of the Tories, highlighting their delay in addressing infrastructural issues in schools. His direct criticism of the Education Secretary underscored his dissatisfaction with the current administration's approach.
Lastly, he touched upon worker rights and the government’s Minimum Services Levels Act. Nowak warned that strikes would be imminent if the legislation is wielded to terminate a worker for participating in industrial action.
The TUC's new initiative under Nowak's leadership signals a renewed focus on expanding union membership and ensuring that the union truly represents the diverse working class of today.