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London NSSN meeting - a real debate on preparing for coordinated action
"This is what the National Shop Stewards Network is for - to bring together the most advanced elements in the unions to develop strategy."
These were the words of RMT London organiser Steve Hedley when he addressed the Joint Unions and National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) meeting on 18 July in London.
Leading members of some of the most powerful unions in London came together to discuss the next steps in the fight against the cuts, following the 30th June strikes.
As Linda Taaffe, NSSN secretary said: "The government is rotten, the media is rotten, the system is rotten, if we gather our forces we can push the damn thing over".
The unions present, and the NSSN, if they act together could have a real effect. "If we seriously organise we will get a response.
"And the unions here can provide a core to push the strikes to success".
Steve charted the development of the anti-cuts battle so far, from the heroic actions of the students, to the 26th March TUC demo, to the coordinated strike action on 30th June by four unions.
In the next stages of the anti-cuts movement, "it is essential to coordinate with the other big battalions".
Mark Palfrey, London divisional rep of the CWU, and Ben Sprung, London organiser of FBU, both outlined the latest attacks and developments in their unions.
Mark explained that the CWU had passed a resolution for general strike action in the autumn. "Our members didn't cross your picket lines [on 30th June] and hopefully we will be in the same dispute as you in the autumn".
Ben Sprung reported that the FBU has agreed to ballot its members over pensions, and is "fully prepared for serious, sustained action; of course we want to be in coordinated action".
NUT executive member Martin Powell-Davies and PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh reported on the tremendous effect of the strike action on 30th June.
Both pointed to the danger of 'divide and rule', of the government attempting separate negotiations to pick unions off. Martin said we should have "no time for trade union leaders that accept that division - they will not be forgiven".
Chris Baugh said there is momentum building for the unions that struck on 30th June, the other unions present in the meeting and even the headteachers' union to coordinate action in the autumn.
If their leaders don't act, "members of other public sector unions will be asking: Why is my union not taking action with the rest?"
The sixty people from various trade unions in the audience took part in real debate about the best slogans to raise; the betrayal of Labour and the need for political representation for workers; the socialist alternative to cuts; and what practical steps can be taken to keep up the pressure for coordinated action in the autumn.
Unison and Unite members discussed the campaign necessary within their unions.
The meeting emphasised the importance of the NSSN lobby of the TUC on 11th September, in order to keep up the pressure on the TUC leadership, and the leadership of 'the big three' unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) in particular.
Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party
NSSN lobby of TUC
The National Shop Stewards Network is organising a lobby of the TUC on Sunday 11 September before this year's TUC conference in London. The aim of this lobby is to push for coordinated strike action this autumn to oppose the government's cuts and attacks on public sector pensions.
There will be a rally at Friends Meeting House in Euston from 1.30-3.30pm on the day.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka will be among the speakers to address the rally.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 July 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.