TUC shift in 'focus' is agreed

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SENIOR union leaders yesterday agreed the most radical changes in the structure of the TUC since the 1920s, writes Barrie Clement.

The ruling general council decided to cut a swathe through the bureaucracy of the last 50 years in an attempt to create an organisation that will campaign on industrial rather than political issues.

John Monks, the TUC general secretary, is determined to build bridges with ministers while introducing a more 'focused' approach to replace an organisation which largely serviced committees producing papers critical of government policies.

Mr Monks told the general council yesterday that the changes, which were opposed by left-wingers for being too drastic, were only the start of the process, 'but there's no going backwards'.

Seventeen committees, dealing with a wide range of issues such as education, international relations and law, have been abolished and one 'executive committee' put in their place. The new executive will set up 'task groups' on specific issues. They will also have the power to co-opt outsiders. Other committees and regional TUC offices have also been urged to reassess their role.

Under the new system the 46-strong general council will meet five times a year instead of monthly. Six new internal departments have been created to replace seven. The changes are being forced on the TUC by 14 years of Tory government and a steep decline in membership. Four years ago the TUC employed 230 staff. The figure is now 160.