Monday, 5th June 2017

Welcome to day 2 of GMB Congress 2017! 

We couldn't leave the events of the last 48 hours unmarked as we opened our congress. Tim took a few minutes out of the schedule to pay tribute to those lost or injured in terrorist attacks this year, which is as poignant as ever with our friend Brandan Cox coming to Congress today to talk about his wife Jo. 

You can see Tim's opening remarks here:

And the opening congress video here:

Yesterday was a packed schedule - A highlight for us was the presentation of the President's Leadership in Equality Awards - our activists do such a fantastic and life changing job. And for us  it was great to see our friend Mary back in the chair and giving the Tories what for from the platform!  

We managed to hit the headlines too, a few of the highlights were:

Yesterday the Daily Mirror and the Guardian both covered our shocking findings about violence in schools.

And today the Guardian and the Morning Star both report on our research into insecure work and the gig economy.

Today, as well as hearing from Brendan, we're going to debate training (an update on the Training Review Congress passed last year), energy and the growth of insecure work among a whole host of other issues. We'll also be getting an update on the last 12 months in the form of the General Secretary’s report. 

We're looking forward to day two, remember if you'd like to see congress documents, click here.

CEC Special Reports

A number of CEC Special Reports were put forward at Congress including a Special Report on Review of GMB Rep Training, Special Report on Energy and a Special Report on Tackling Precarious Work, the Gig Economy, Special Report on the Introduction of Reserved Seats for Equality Strands on the Central Executive Council and Regional Councils and CEC Financial Proposals Report.


COMPOSITE 14: Employment of Disabled People and Supported Employment

This Congress we call upon to set out their stance on supported employment and come up with a viable strategy and a new policy of the GMB on supported employment which can be presented to the next Labour government.

Ideally any such policy needs to reflect the abilities of the working disabled and emphasise specifically the contribution that those with disabilities can make in today's society if given the opportunity. i.e. workplaces run by disabled people for disabled people.

The previous policy centred around the Remploy network needs to be resurrected, modified and modernised to reflect a new positive way forward and find a place for a modern supported employment program which through ring fenced finance can provide a support structure for long term meaningful employment.

All too often, disabled people are left by the wayside – we believe that not-for -profit, social enterprises such as Enabled Works Limited are one way forward for Supported employment.


Phil Steer from West Yorkshire Manufacturing branch speaking on Composite 14.

Motion 138: Foster Care And Bogus Employment

This Congress, we call on our union to campaign for the end to bogus employment practices within local authority foster care and ask that Council's recognise that although not defined by statute as employees, foster carers are treated as employed. Even where Council's allow foster carers to seek employment separate to their foster care commitment, and many do not, the requirement to be available at all times whilst caring for a child makes separate employment impossible. Holiday allowances and respite and 52 week payments should therefore be enshrined in all local authority foster care agreements.

Ben Cain from Bradford Public Services branch speaking on Motion 138.


This Congress should continue to campaign nationally against the exploitation of workers through the distasteful use of zero hours‟ contracts.  Time and time again we hear of employers in all sectors introducing zero hours‟ contracts with reduced basic pay rates alongside previously negotiated ones.

These changes are leading to the degrading of all trades and positions which is a smack in the face to GMB postholders who have, over the years passionately and tirelessly negotiated pay, with terms and conditions bringing them up to an acceptable living wage and work life balance.  These measures implemented by employers have in one swift blow, wiped out years of pay and conditions agreed by both parties in the spirit of peaceful and harmonious negotiations.

The GMB has rightly exposed conditions at Sports Direct and ASOS and also highlighted concerns about treatment of couriers and drivers at Uber, Hermes and Deliveroo.   

We have all seen growing evidence of agency workers and those working in the gig economy being exposed to poor working conditions. This growing trend raises questions over employment status and lack of workers‟ rights.

Although ministers have ordered a crackdown via an enquiry on companies using large numbers of self-employed or agency workers, businesses up and down the country are jumping on the band wagon and following suit.   

Parliament must decide whether the hidden costs to the state and the routine casualisation of labour in the UK are acceptable and question whether some of the extreme employer practices identified are actually legal. This enquiry will be long and drawn out, so we urge members in the meantime to contact their branch secretaries and alert them to employers who “choose” to go down the route of zero hours and reduced pay packets to new employees who can in turn inform their regional secretaries, so they ascertain the full extent of the distasteful introduction of these working practices and pass this information on to the appropriate persons/bodies carrying out the enquiry into zero hour contracts.


Andy Irving, GMB regional president speaking on behalf of the CEC on Motion 138 and moving the CEC Special Report on Tackling Precarious Work and the Gig Economy.

 Composite 12: ASOS

The CEC calls on the TUC (plus the Select Committee) to put pressure on Community to back out of the sweetheart deal and if they won’t they must expel Community from the TUC for undermining the GMBs wok at ASOS.  Members choose the union they wish to join, not their employers.

Many will say that this is the wrong time for an internal row within the TUC with all the problems the movement faces but unity cannot be at any price, and actions such as Community’s should put them outside of our movement.

Neil Derrick, GMB regional secretary for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire speaking on Composite 12.


This Congress fully supports the work of Level Playing Field in promoting disabled access to football and other sports stadia. Football is the worlds most popular sport, bringing pleasure to millions. For football fans, nothing compares to actually being at a match. However, many professional football clubs fail to provide adequate places for disabled fans at their stadia. Whilst there is an Accessible Stadia Guide, setting minimum amounts of places specifically for disabled spectators, it is not compulsory. It is morally wrong that many Premier League and Football League clubs fail to adhere to the guidelines. It has been reported that of the 20 Premier League clubs in England, only 3 have adequate places for disabled fans. Given the astronomical amounts of money in the Premier League from TV rights, surely they can spare some of their money to help their loyal fans?

To redress the balance and to allow disabled fans enjoy watching their favourite sport, Congress calls for the Accessible Stadia Guide to be made compulsory.


Ian Kemp from Parkgate branch speaking on Motion 90

Special Posthumous Eleanor Marx Award to Jo Cox MP

Jo Cox former MP for Batley & Spen and GMB member was murdered in her constituency while carrying out her work as an MP. In memory of Jo Congress awarded her a Special Posthumous award which was presented to her husband Brendan.

 Ian Butler from Sheffield Waste & Recycling branch speaking in support of CEC Special Report on Housing.

 End of Day's Business.


Congress Diary - 2017

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