Its been an emotional return to face to face congress for members of the GMB this week, the first one since the pandemic. The opening at the weekend saw the traditional banner parade carried out to the stirring rendition of Jerusalem, many delegates clearly emotional as they took time to reflect on the last few years during the music.
Business has been hectic with a wide range of topics touched on already, with discussion around the cost of living crisis featuring prominently.
The need to build an inclusive union membership saw some heartfelt contributions – and reflecting on the wide experience which we have to draw on from the retired members section and others is a point that has been driven home already.
Speeches outlining the human cost of the current economic crisis has drawn out the vulnerability of many elderly and disabled people in our society. An excellent motion on the anti-TU laws (kept on the statute books by successive Labour governments) saw a standing ovation from the members as we discussed how we can fight to repeal anti TU laws. The motion was submitted by the Scotland region. Though the sentiment is widely shared amongst officials and the membership, the elephant in the room is the political path to see the fightback lead to success, and there has been no open discussion on GMB’s ongoing relationship with the Labour party, although it is clearly on the minds of many who simply ask “under Starmer what exactly are we getting out of this relationship?”. Dealing with the ramifications of the ongoing support for Labour is at the heart of the question of how we go about repealing the anti-TU laws.
A host of fringe meetings have already happened with many more on the agenda. The meeting organised by Kick Racism out of the Game heard from pundit and former player Chris Kamara.
Those wanting to follow Congress can do so via GMB twitter, where there is also a LiveStream https://www.gmb.org.uk/gmb-congress-2022-live-stream