In September of 2015 organisers of Unite the Union’s Unite Community project and officers of the National Shop Stewards Network began to interact, with an aim toward building a common purpose for advancing the causes of the wider labour movement. What the two groups had in common beyond working-class aims was a common enemy in the multi-billionaire scourge of Sports Direct UK’s owner, Newcastle United Football Club megalomaniac Mike Ashley.
Together the Unite the Union and NSSN’s north east section mounted campaigns against Sports Direct in this socialist heartland. Receptions were sometimes mixed, complicated by the number of people employed by the company who are unable to find secure and permanent work. Nonetheless, the message of resistance to zero-hours contracts and exploitation resonated with most people, wishing for better futures for their children and their region.
Under the leadership of Unite the Community full-time officer John Coan, careful planning began for a joint action that entailed the unfurling of a banner at a high-profile and wide-audience NUFC match. Cultivation of links and trust between local and organic football supporters’ groups, trade unions, and anti-cuts activists yielded amazing cooperation, resulting in a brilliant MUFC-NUFC banner-drop that captured the focus of capitalist media.
Four Unite the Union full-timers an an NSSN lay member of Unite devised a plan to smuggle a 15Mx2M banner in to St James Park. Seated at the Gallowgate end, lower east stand, they executed the drop with ease, capturing the attention of the capitalist media unimpeded, and trending the topic of Sports Direct’s criminality on social media.
The group have agreed to continue working in conjunction, for the wider benefit of all trade unionists and socialists.
The action is reported in the Guardian