TUC general secretary-elect has promised to make sure the voices of workers are ‘heard, day in day out’

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General secretary-elect of the TUC, Frances O’Grady has promised to make sure the voices of workers are ‘heard, day in day out’ and that their concerns will not be ‘ignored, dismissed or marginalised’ by governments or political parties.

She was speaking after formal confirmation that she had been elected to succeed the current general secretary, Brendan Barber, who stands down at the end of 2012.

Frances O’Grady told delegates at the TUC 2012 conference in Brighton that the trade union movement would have to change: “Stop talking to ourselves, about ourselves, but reaching out more, campaigning more, organising more and – if needs be – fighting back more.”

In an extended speech, she spelled out her personal agenda for economic and social change, which she said would reflect the values of ‘millions of ordinary working families who are under unprecedented pressure, but who want hope for the future’.

There must be change to the banking sector, she said, a green industrial strategy, and publicly-owned public services, including child and elder care, the rail transport system as well as ‘our precious NHS’.

“Not just a minimum wage, not just a living wage, but a fair wage for all of the people in this country.

“New ways to rebuild the scope and coverage of collective bargaining: our bread and butter work.”

She paid tribute to Brendan Barber, who, she said, ‘taught me that we work best when we work as a team’.

She also praised TUC staff, ‘whose talent and commitment is second to none’.

However, she said the trade union movement would have to reach out to many people in the UK who have yet to become union members.

Frances O’Grady concluded with a call to arms, designed to rally union members for the 20 October demonstration and beyond: “Decency and fairness – these are my values, our values, trade union values. And I believe, delegates, together we can build a future that works and together, united, we will win.”


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