TUC Congress: Ukraine solidarity motion secures union backing

Morgan Jones
GMB general secretary Gary Smith.
GMB general secretary Gary Smith.

A motion calling for the Trades Union Congress to stand in solidarity with Ukraine and demand more UK support has passed at the TUC’s annual congress in Liverpool.

The motion was put forward by the GMB union, with backing from the train driver’s union ASLEF and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

It calls on the TUC to “send solidarity to all Ukrainian trade unionists who are fighting for workers’ rights and against imperialism every day”,”engage with Ukrainian trade unions from both trade union centres, and a wide range of union members and ideas” and “stand with Ukrainian people in the UK and support them in whatever means available until they can safely return home”.

The carried motion backs “immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territories occupied since 2014”, and “Ukrainian unions’ calls for financial and practical aid from the UK to Ukraine”.

GMB general secretary Gary Smith, writing in LabourList last week, said he believed “that the conference should carry the strongest possible statement, in line with the calls of our Ukrainian trade union sisters and brothers.”

He continued: “Ukraine is fighting a war of survival. No short article can accurately describe the scale of the war crimes that are being committed within its borders”, concluding by asserting that the TUC’s message to Ukrainian trade unionists “should be one of solidarity to the end of occupation, to the end of conflict, and the hoped-for day when all of Ukraine will be free”. 

The campaign group Stop the War had called for delegates to oppose the motion, however.

The organisation’s vice president Andrew Murray, a former Labour adviser, responded to Smith’s article, arguing: “The GMB’s resolution makes no call for a ceasefire and peace talks but instead mimics the maximalist demands of the global right-wing who want to see the war prolonged, profitably, without end.”

Update: This article previously stated that the carried motion supported “the continuation and increasing of moral, material, and military aid from the UK to Ukraine”. This was in the initial GMB motion but the wording was updated in the final motion to read that Congress supports “Ukrainian unions’ calls for financial and practical aid from the UK to Ukraine.”


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