Union renegades have history of shunning TUC

Derek Simpson, the head of the Amicus union and a leading figure in the proposed ‘super-union’, has shunned all official meetings of TUC executives in the past year, it emerged last week.

His zero attendance rate at General Council and Executive Committee meetings – where strategic decision making takes place on behalf of the 67 unions affiliated to the TUC – was revealed in the 2005 TUC General Council Report.

The figures raise further doubts about his interest in the future relationship between the TUC and the super-union.

An amalgamation of Amicus, the Transport & General Workers’ Union and the GMB union is planned for January 2007 and has led to heavy speculation that the new union, which could make up as much as 40% of TUC membership, might challenge the TUC for leadership of the movement.

Senior officials in the three unions that will make up the super-union are thought to be unhappy about the close links the TUC maintains with the government.

The hardline stance has angered some in the union movement. The Communication Managers Association, which represents managers in the postal service, has threatened to split from Amicus because it believes the super-union will be too left wing.

And TUC general secretary Brendan Barber warned that it was “very important that [the three unions] don’t allow the impression to be created that they are somehow indifferent to the rest of the trade union movement”.

The TUC is to call a summit this autumn to discuss the planned merger. Barber said he hoped the meeting would result in firm proposals being brought to next year’s Congress.

A spokeswoman for Amicus denied that Simpson’s record of attendance was an indication that he was disinterested in the role of the TUC.

“It has already been agreed that a founding principle [of the new super-union] will be the continued affiliation with the TUC,” she said.

For an analysis of events at the TUC Congress, go to www.personneltoday.com/31624.article

What exactly are the TUC General Council and Executive Committee?

The TUC’s General Council has 56 members drawn from the senior ranks of the trade unions. It meets every two months to oversee the umbrella body’s work programme and sanction new policy initiatives.

The Executive Committee, which has 25 members (equally senior trade unionists) meets monthly to develop and implement policy, manage financial affairs and deal with urgent business.

The 2005 TUC General Council Report reveals that Derek Simpson, head of Amicus, shunned all meetings.

Paul Kenny, acting head of the GMB, went to three out of the seven General Council meetings and only one of the 11 Executive Committee meetings.

Tony Woodley, who is noted for being more sympathetic towards the TUC, attended four General Council meetings and four Executive Committee meetings.

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