I’m just back from GMB Congress 24. In previous years I have written a lot about the proceedings, but this Congress was much quieter that in previous years. This blog article, is a personal review of the Congress; it covers overleaf/below the debate on Israel and Palestine and on a future deal with the EU. It also covers my branch’s two other interventions.

It comes at the end of the quadrennial CEC (Central Executive Council) elections and so there will be a significant change of personnel. The election rules have changed, and so have the regional constituency boundaries and the number of Regions. Perhaps the most shocking result is that Malcom Sage, a CEC member for decades and the incumbent Vice President was not re-elected to the CEC.

The agenda was, in my mind, dominated by the CEC special reports. To me the two most important were the Special Report on Israel and Palestine and the Special Report on “A new deal with the EU”, although there were also statements on schools and the Tory “Minimum Service Level” Act.

The Statement on Israel and Palestine was moved on behalf of the CEC by Farzana Jumma and the debate is available on the youtube stream, starting at 44:44.

On the latter report i.e. the report on a new deal with Europe. I was the London Region speaker in the debate and my speaker’s notes are below. Critically the GMB Congress have voted to use the Future Trade and Cooperation Agreement sunset review to go beyond Labour’s NPF position, which came to be repeated in the Labour Party manifesto. I am unsure that a Swiss or even a Norwegian deal is possible as the EU is likely to maintain that the single market is indivisible, but I am sure that both Labour and the Tories promises are not enough and now the GMB agrees.

I also spoke at the London Region fringe, on “Workers Rights and the rise of the far right” co-sponsored by the LME. I shall post my speaker notes in one or two separate blogs as the meeting took place immediately after the EU parliament elections and the speech was quite long.

I also guided my branch’s motion on making the Union’s education programmes more flexible through the conference, winning an upgrade of the CEC recommendation from Refer, which I argue, with experience is too easy to ignore, to “Support with Qualification” . Now our delegate next year needs to track the actions, as last time we pursued this, the CEC referred it to the Regions where it got lost and the means of holding regional committees is much weaker.

Two other issues raised by London Region included further calls for regulation of AI and the abolition of tuition fees. Both of which were carried; I look forward to seeing the text of these motions in the policy book.

The youtube streams are available, Sunday AM & PM, Monday AM & PM, Tuesday AM & PM, Wednesday AM, & Thursday AM .

Speech on the Special Report, A new deal with the EU, …

President, Congress, Dave Levy, London Region speaking on the Special Report on a new deal with Europe.

GMB London Region supports the CEC’s negotiating objectives outlined in the Special Report.

Although, we do not want to reopen old wounds, nor step on existing policy, our members across all sectors are adamant that the status quo just isn’t working for working people.

The Tories’ rushed exit from Europe has failed British industry and sparked renewed attacks on workers’ rights.

The 2026 review offers the first opportunity to address the failings of the Tories’ exit plan – and secure a level playing field to protect jobs, rebuild the economy and defend and advance workers’ rights.

It is critical that GMB is in a position to influence the priorities for a renegotiation, so that the renewed Trade and Cooperation Agreement works for our members, and we support the Report’s negotiating objectives.

We need to ensure that the UK does not fall behind Europe on equality standards.

We need to ensure that the UK does not fall behind Europe on workers protection standards.

We need to ensure that the UK isn’t taken out of the European Convention on Human Rights.

We welcome the proposal to support a new Youth Mobility scheme with the EU offering reciprocal access to work and higher education.We note the statements by the report and survey respondents that it’s harder to recruit, and harder to work in Europe, even on secondment and welcome steps to reduce these barriers.

And we need more regulatory co-operation in key sectors, of particularly interest to London Region is the proposals for improved co-operation in the energy markets. Our Energy workers branch is about 2500 members strong and the need to repair the markets will benefit both workers and consumers.

We also welcome the recognition of the damage done to the 3rd sector by our exclusion from European Social Fund.

After years of political posturing, and the clear movement in opinion, it’s time for the grown-ups to enter the room and begin to undo the slow economic damage caused by the Tories’ ideological rush to get out of the door. It’s time to reset the relationship with Europe to one that is built on the strong recognition of workers’ rights and co-operation.

We share the motion’s position that we urgently need both a change of Government and a new deal with Europe to make work better. We are committed to work tirelessly for both.

Dave Levy, LONDON REGION at GMB Congress 2024

Labour’s Manifesto on relations with the EU

With Labour, Britain will stay outside of the EU. But to seize the opportunities ahead, we must make Brexit work. We will reset the relationship and seek to deepen ties with our European friends, neighbours and allies. That does not mean reopening the divisions of the past. There will be no return to the single market, the customs union, or freedom of movement.

Instead, Labour will work to improve the UK’s trade and investment relationship with the EU, by tearing down unnecessary barriers to trade. We will seek to negotiate a veterinary agreement to prevent unnecessary border checks and help tackle the cost of food; help our touring artists; and secure a mutual recognition agreement for professional qualifications to help open up markets for UK service exporters.

Labour will seek an ambitious new UK-EU security pact to strengthen co-operation on the threats we face. We will rebuild relationships with key European allies, including France and Germany, through increased defence and security co-operation. We will seek new bilateral agreements and closer working with Joint Expeditionary Force partners. This will strengthen NATO and keep Britain safe.

GMB Congress 24, a view from the cheap seats
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