Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), opened our Working Identities conference on Monday 11 March 2019 by calling for an honest conversation about working class identities today, particularly in light of the EU referendum and the Brexit vote.

'The working classes'

Frances was introducing a session on 'The Working Classes', alongside Professor Geoffrey Evans from the University of Oxford, at the beginning of the two-day conference on developments that are changing the role and significance of work in people’s lives and wider society.

Key themes

In this recording, Frances talks about how class has come back to the national agenda and the headlines as a result of the EU referendum, and she suggests that we need to listen carefully to what's happened in people's working lives, and the working lives of their children, to understand the 'Leave' vote. She also warns of the dangers of the Far Right filling the identity and shared values vacuum, and calls on politicians to respond.

She talks about the diversification of today's working class, about the long-term decline of social mobility, and she calls for a new deal for Britain's working people, that addresses the causes and consequences of Brexit. 

She closes with a warning about the impacts of the rise of global capital, dominated by digital giants such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, which is giving rise to new forms of exploitation and inequality.

Sound Cloud
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Published Date
12 March, 2019