Following what was described by one observer as the best debate she had ever witnessed at a TUC congress, union delegates voted overwhelmingly for ‘motion 5′, moved by the POA union (prison officers) in favour of a general strike against the government’s austerity.
Although the wording of the motion qualified the general strike call, arguing for “coordinated action where possible with far reaching campaigns including the consideration and practicalities of a general strike”, the sentiment and motivation behind it was made clear by the speakers in favour. They pointed to the brutal attacks being made by the Con-Dem government and the need for them to be stopped by the trade union movement through powerful general strike action involving the public and private sectors.
Hard hitting speeches along these lines were made in favour of the motion by Steve Gillan from the POA, Bob Crow from the RMT (who seconded it), John McInally from the PCS and a number of others.
A Ucatt representative had a big effect when he urged delegates not to make ‘the mistakes of the past’ in failing to lead action. He reminded everyone that when the trade union leaders threatened a general strike in 1972 after the jailing of the Pentonville Five dockers, those workers were released.
Opposition speakers from Prospect, the ATL, Balpa, NASUWT and Usdaw tried to convince delegates to vote against the motion by claiming that most trade union members don’t want a general strike, that it’s impossible to achieve and that the call for one would be a propaganda weapon for the government.
In replying to the debate Steve Gillan, referring to those who argued that the government would use the call for a general strike as ‘a big stick to beat us’, answered forcefully: “The government is already using a big stick against us, and it is hurting”.
The passing of this motion is a great step forward in the battle that has been waged to push the leaders of the TUC towards mobilising the weight of the trade movement against the government’s cuts agenda.
Support delivered for the resolution from the large unions Unite and Unison to add to that of unions such as the RMT and PCS, reflects the mood of rank and file trade union members in favour of decisive action to stand up to the government.
The National Stop Stewards Network welcomes the passing of the POA motion; both have been at the forefront of spearheading and mobilising support for the calling of a 24-hour general strike.
In particular, the inspiring and well attended march and lobby of the TUC organised by the NSSN on Sunday 9 September played an important part in building momentum for this victory. (Also see our excellent short video)
1. We need to demand that the TUC general council urgently discusses the naming of a day for the strike. Distribute our Leaflet with Motion, and encourage discussions and debates.
2. We also need to help make sure that the 20 October TUC demonstrations in London, Belfast and Glasgow against the government’s agenda are huge, and use those events as an opportunity to further develop support for a 24-hour general strike and for concrete preparations for it by the trade union leaders.
3. We would also encourage you to get involved in your union, trades council and anti-cuts groups if you are not already.
4. Lastly, but by no means the least important, join, support and donate to the NSSN! Standing orders are most welcome – Just a £2/£1 a month would make a massive difference.
THE NSSN also welcomes yesterday’s Hillsborough report which revealed, what most already knew, that Liverpool fans were the innocent victims. We condemn the cover-up and lies which indict the police, Murdoch’s Sun and an ex-Tory Sheffield MP. Now for real justice for the 96 and their families and friends. You’ll never walk alone!
LOW-PAID cleaners on the East Coast mainline and the London Midland service, working for contractors ISS, stepped up their fight for pay justice with a 24-hour strike on Monday 10 September. Outrageously, Steve Hedley, new assistant general secretary of the RMT, who was peacefully supporting the picket line, was arrested by police and held for five hours. Steve was released without charge. More
Amnesty UK workers to strike for first time in over 20 years Amnesty employees took strike action yesterday to protest against an ill-conceived cost cutting programme which will see a significant number of redundancies.
RMT members in Carlisle Cleaning & Support Services (TransPennine Express) – took industrial action short of a strike in the form of an overtime and rest day working ban 25th August – 8th September. More
RMT members at Caledonian MacBrayne have voted by almost nine to one in favour of strike action in a fight to protect pensions and workplace rights. More
RMT balloting crew working on the Mitie contract on First Great Western for both strike action and action short of a strike over the blatant victimisation of union representative Sharon Petrie. More
Blood transfusion test results could be hit, if strike action goes ahead, because of the threatened closure of the blood-testing centre at Colindale in north London. Ballot papers for Unite members are now out and the result is due on 18 September – the day before the consultation ends on the ‘business case’ which could mean blood samples from London and the south east travelling for more than two hours for testing at Filton. More
Journalists in York who face a pay freeze – which when inflation is taken into account is equivalent to a pay cut – are balloting for industrial action. More
c) OTHER UPDATES
Unite and Rank & File Sparks continue protests over ‘BESNA two’. Last week, one of the R & F was eventually re-instated. Congratulations from the NSSN! [email protected]
The Unite & GMB members protested against the refusal of PJ Douglas, the main UK contractor for the construction of a new biomass plant for Eon energy company, to hold meaningful talks with the trade unions about the national agreement, health and safety and the employment of local labour in Sheffield.
UCU and Unison at London Met University are supporting a protest at the UK border agency as students face transferring studies or being deported. A joint union statement said: “That the UKBA decision to revoke London Met’s sponsorship is an unprecedented attack on all higher education and must be opposed at all levels.”
PCS are currently consulting over the closure of 8 nurseries. More
A fight is on to save a small community hospital in the ex-mining town of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire – visited by 15,000 people a year -which has moved to the Kings Mill district general hospital in Mansfield.
Shrewsbury pickets’ conference: The aim of the Justice for Shrewsbury Pickets campaign is to overturn the injustices inflicted by the Shrewsbury conspirators, to “put right the political wrong” as singer/songwriter Chris Tymkow says in his brilliant song (thanks again Chris).
They organised a conference in Liverpool recently. Previously, they campaigned for the TUC to implement its 2007 policy on Shrewsbury for a public inquiry and disclosure of the secret files held by the Home Office. Though they still support TUC policy, experience had shown it was more effective to unite the injustices of blacklisting and the dismantling of the legal protection of our social infrastructure by highlighting their underlying commonality — unjust laws that protect the power and privileges of employers regardless of the needs of employees.
CHILE on September 11th was the 39th anniversary of “the other 9/11” – the brutal coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet and backed by US imperialism. The coup overturned the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, giving way to a two-decade’s long dictatorship.
SPAIN Please send messages of support. The SAT trade union and its leaders, Diego Canamero and Sanchez Gordillo have swept to national and international fame following their organisation of “expropriations” of supermarkets in Andalucia, to distribute basic foodstuffs among the thousands of rural and urban poor, in this region devastated by the crisis with an unemployment rate of over 30%. Spain: Protest leaders arrested in Malaga after bank occupation. More
South Africa – In the face of widespread anger, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been forced to drop the murder charges against the 270 miners arrested after the 16 August Marikana massacre and to release them. The poisonous propaganda cloud that was released by the police, sections of the media, and the NUM immediately after the massacre to the effect that the police fired at the workers in self defence is beginning to dissipate as reports indicate that many of the workers were shot in the back as they were fleeing. More
(Note we will keep this to no more than 2 weeks and NSSN events with more listings on the website)
Protest at South African Embassy, 4-7 in support of striking miners
5-7pm We are London Met, Open mt, North Campus, North Campus – Tower TM1-83 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB
Protest over 2,600 students at London Metropolitan University at threat of deportation. UK Border Agency, 31-33 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0AB
Support the cleaners at Societe Generale – They are fighting against redundancies and cuts in their working hours. 41 Tower Hill. 5pm
“No hospital closures, no cuts to services” Greenwich & Bexley trades council demo, Assemble 1pm General Gordon Sq. [email protected]
Ealing trades council “Save our hospitals” march assemble at 10am Southall Park [email protected] 07960 309 457
Brent trades council “Defend NW London NHS” march noon Harlesden Jubilee clock to Central Middlesex Hospital from [email protected] 07906 313 954
Janice Godrich, PCS national president, speaking on the fight against cuts in services. Build for the 20 October TUC Demo, build for a 24 hour general strike!
Protest against at the LibDem conference Brighton – No to Austerity! Noon @ The Level (Stop the Cuts & Brighton Trades Council)
Battle of Orgreave: Film & Discussion 7-9.30pm TUC, London. FREE. Book [email protected] / 020 7467 1220
Rally against McNulty – Manchester (Labour Party conference)
Lobby of Labour Party conference for a clear commitment to repeal the Health and Social Care Bill and rebuild our health service.
TUC Mass demonstration, ‘A Future That Works’ TUC in Belfast, London & Glasgow. Transport details can be seen at, and should be uploaded to False Economy.
London NSSN public meeting – 7pm ULU, Malet Street WC1E 7HY
Scotland NSSN conference – Glasgow
South West NSSN public meeting – Swindon
MIDLANDS NSSN Conference Unite offices, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AY. 12.00-16.00. Speakers include Joe Simpson, Asst Gen Sec POA
YORKSHIRE & HUMBER NSSN Conference 10am – 4pm. Leeds, Cosmopolitan Hotel, 2 Lower Briggate, LS1 4AE. Contact Kevin Pattison 07962867034.
Facebook main group ‘National Shop Stewards Network’ & ‘Stop the cuts’
New website: www.shopstewards.net
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 07952 283 558
Post: NSSN, PO Box 54498, London E10 9D
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