New Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to Address Union Conference

Newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to speak to at the annual conference of U.K. trade unions, in what will be his first policy speech since he was elected as leader. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) conference will take place in Brighton and Corbyn is expected to give a 15-minute speech on Tuesday afternoon.

Corbyn won the backing of several unions during his leadership campaign and he has been outspoken about his support for them, saying that they are "The most effective force for equality in our society", and promising that he would "stand with [and] stand on picket lines" with union members.

The TUC conference comes at an important time for the unions. On Monday, the controversial Trade Union Bill passed its first hurdle in the House of Commons with 317 MPs voting in favour and 284 against, meaning that it will now be debated in depth. The bill would see restrictions put on the trade union, curbing their ability to take strike actions, including imposing a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots, and requiring backing from at least 40% of the union for public sector strikes. It would also mean that employees who picket would have to give their names to police if asked, and could also be fined if they don't wear official armbands.

The bill has been largely criticized by Corbyn and other Labour MPs. The new leader Labour said that Britain "already has the most restrictive trade union laws in western Europe," while the newly appointed shadow business secretary, Angela Eagle condemned it further. "[It is] the most significant, sustained and partisan attack on six million trade union members and their workplace organisations that we have seen in this country in the last 30 years. There is absolutely no necessity whatsoever to employ the law in this draconian way," Eagle said.

Corbyn has faced criticism after he announced his shadow cabinet, which included making controversial left-winger John McDonnell shadow chancellor and was also accused of giving the most senior roles to men, although half the posts overall went to women. Corbyn accused his critics of "living in the 18th century."