The 148th annual UK Trades Union Congress will be held this year in Brighton from September 11 to 14 — and will include a vote on whether to endorse universal basic income.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is, as it were, a “union of unions”. As the TUC itself puts it, “Just as individual workers benefit by joining together in a union, so unions gain strength by acting together through the TUC. The TUC brings unions together to draw up common policies on issues that matter to people at work.”

The TUC represents a total of more than 5.8 million workers from 51 unions. Its member unions range in size from small specialists unions of a few hundred members to the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, with around 1.4 million members. The TUC states that its mission “to be a high profile organisation that campaigns successfully for trade union aims and values; assists trade unions to increase membership and effectiveness; cuts out wasteful rivalry; and promotes trade union solidarity.”

The largest member, Unite, endorsed basic income this past July. It has now introduced a motion supporting basic income for consideration at this year’s Congress.

This is the full text of the motion on which the Congress will be voting (available in the Congress’ Preliminary Agenda, pp. 49-50):

Universal Basic Income

Congress notes the growing popularity of the idea of a ‘Universal Basic Income’ with a variety of models being discussed here and around the world. Congress recognises the need for a rebuilding of a modern social security system for men and women as part of tackling poverty and inequality.

Congress believes that the TUC should argue for a progressive system that incorporates the basis of a Universal Basic Income system paid individually and that is complementary to comprehensive public services and childcare provision.

Congress believes that such a system would be easier to administer and easier for people to navigate than the current system which has been made increasingly punitive and has effectively been used to stigmatise benefit claimants. The operation of sanctions pushes people into destitution for trivial reasons.

Congress recognises that until the housing crisis is resolved there would also be a need for supplementary benefits to support people on low incomes with high housing costs and that there will always be a need for supplementary benefits for disabled people.

The transition from our current system to any new system that incorporates these principles should always leave people with lower incomes better off.

Congress believes that our social security system must work in tandem with our agenda for strong trade unions and employment rights and secure, decently and properly paid work.

Reviewed by Robert Gordon

Photo CC BY-NC 2.0 Toban B.

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About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.