Today David and I attended the annual Trades Union Congress, which this year met in the newly built Convention Centre in
The visit was facilitated by Paul Morrison, Policy Advisor with the
We met with a number of senior
We talked about how the Church and unions could build on joint work done together in the recent past on issues related to industrial chaplaincy by exploring how we respond to the needs of the increasing number of people who are unemployed or being exploited. We also shared our common concerns about the impact of climate change and how even at a time of recession we must take this issue seriously. The
We had a useful discussion with Joe Mann, Deputy General Secretary of the union Community about how we should respond to the growth of the betting and gaming industry, as well as how to support those working within the industry and who find themselves in difficult ethical situations.
We met the current President of the
The central event of the afternoon was the visit of Gordon Brown to the Congress. It was a visit that had been heavily trailed in the press, particularly as it was expected he was to focus on cuts in government spending in his address. In the end, as you might expect, this was a very small part of what he had to say, although he did say he would, “cut costs, cut inefficiencies, cut unnecessary programmes and cut lower priority budgets”, but he would “not support cuts in the vital front line services on which people depend.” This is clearly going to be a major area of debate as the general election approaches, and one that Christians should not shy away from.
Amongst all the many promises he made I was pleased that he did not forget the “Make Poverty History” campaign and underlined the Government’s commitment to international development and to keep their promise to continue spending on this area of vital importance to many of the poorest in the world.