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New Trades Union Council for Frome?

A MEETING  will be held next week to discuss forming a Trades Union Council for the Mendip area, covering Frome.

Trades Union Councils are the local arms of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), bringing together delegates from local affiliated trade union branches to organise working-class solidarity. There are around 170 councils in England, Scotland and Wales, but there hasn’t been one for the Mendip area for about 30 years.

Secretary for the Somerset Association of Trades Union Councils, Dave Chapple said, “A number of trades unions active in the Mendip areal have contacted the TUC with an aim to start a local Trades Union Council. Trades councils raise public awareness of rights at work, and the trade union role in enforcing those rights. The councils can support affiliated unions by supporting and organising recruitment drives to build union membership and gain recognition.

“Above all, trades councils campaign on all the things that matter to their local communities, campaigning which can create long-lasting alliances between trades unionists and progressive community groups like pensioners, environmentalists, charities, transport and anti-poverty campaigners.

“Somerset Trades Union Councils are currently in the thick of campaigning against “austerity” and low-paid precarious work, for the NHS, against closure of hospital wards, libraries, children’s centres; and against the many varieties of privatisations most public services are facing.

“It is the policy of the national TUC and our South West Regional TUC to strengthen this movement of local trade unionists wherever we can. There was a time when Frome, Radstock, Shepton Mallet and Glastonbury all had their own local TUC!

“Whilst it would be wildly over-ambitious to resurrect that set-up, we cannot continue at present, where the whole of the centre of the traditional county of Somerset from Bridgwater to Bath has no trade union organisation that can bring different unions to support each other and campaign together on the pressing issues that concern and unite us. We will need to take advice from you concerning how best to organise things: should there be a single Mendip TUC, perhaps rotating meetings between Frome and other Mendip towns, or is there enough interest to establish two new councils?

“If you and your branch are interested in taking part in a new Mendip Area Trades Union Council, please contact me ASAP and turn up to the meeting in Wells on Monday 16th April. It is hoped that the practical outcome of the meeting in Wells will be to make arrangements for the formal launch of a Mendip Trades Union Council and the election of officers.”

The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held at the Lawrence Centre next to the Union Street car park (BA5 2PQ). For more information, call Dave Chapple on 07707 869144 or email: davechapple @btinternet.com

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