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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2011

"The genie is out of the bottle"

London National Shop Stewards Network meeting

Paula Mitchell, London Socialist Party

Coming straight from the fantastic 30 November public sector strike demo, the mood at the packed-out London National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) meeting was sky high after such a historic day.

The meeting was opened by Martin Powell-Davies of the NUT teachers' union NEC (personal capacity), and Rob Williams, chair of the NSSN.

Cheers greeted the many uplifting reports from picket lines and the demo. Retired public sector worker Mike Cleverley - and apparently his pension isn't very gold-plated - reported on conversations he had overheard on the tube going to the London demo: "The genie is out of the bottle". The front page of the free Metro declared: "This is class war". Glenn Kelly, a witch-hunted Unison trade union member, described the new generation "blooded" in the day's strike.

There was a serious discussion about the next steps the NSSN needs to fight for. This includes keeping up the pressure inside unions such as Unison, whose current leadership will need to be pushed to continue the struggle.

A mental health nurse described brilliant picket lines built by ordinary members despite the efforts of the local union bureaucracy to prevent a proper strike in her area. A Unison member described how a regional officer had told him he couldn't wear a Unison tabard and carry a Socialist Party placard! "Is it better to hold a placard saying 'Too far too fast' and a Labour rosette?"

Alex Gordon, president of the RMT transport union, moved the meeting with his report of the strike by RMT members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary - a massive picket on the main naval dockyard, where the knot of history was tied when they were joined by veteran seafarers. To applause, he argued for united union action and for linking together public and private sector workers.

Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, raised the sights of the meeting, showing how the depth of the economic crisis means not only the necessity of a massive united fight by the trade unions, but also the need for a socialist programme and a mass working class alternative to New Labour.

The meeting pledged support for a prison worker who had joined PCS in order to join the picket line at his prison, and was later informed he had been sacked.


A Liverpool National Shop Stewards Network meeting followed the city's strike rally on 30 November. The meeting attracted over 80 workers, leaving standing room only.

Chaired by Dave Walsh, Unite Liverpool city council branch secretary, the speakers were Darren Ireland, RMT North West and North Wales regional council secretary, Dermot Finn, a blacklisted construction worker, and Tony Mulhearn. Tony was a member of the 'Liverpool 47' in the 1983-87 Labour council that refused to make cuts and forced 60 million of extra funding out of the then-Tory government.

Roy Farrar, Liverpool Socialist Party

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In The Socialist 7 December 2011:

Socialist Party feature

Con-Dems pile on the misery - 'Enough is enough'

Socialist Party editorial

Eurozone crisis - capitalists have no solution

Workplace news and analysis

Cuts and misery - it doesn't have to be like this

Socialist MEP supports public sector strike

"The genie is out of the bottle"

30 November strike: a historic day!

Building a fighting union - interview with Steve Hedley

Defend the JIB, victory to the sparks!

Reinstate Paul Kelly: Solidarity with Portsmouth RMT

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory sleaze is back!

Reading the riots

All in it together

Them & Us

Climate change

Climate change and extreme weather

Housing crisis

Homes Crisis: Fund housing need - not fat cat greed!

International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Build on the general strike action

Ireland: Resist latest austerity attacks

Tamil Solidarity: Gearing up for 2012

Brazilian socialists remember Socrates

Socialist Party reviews

Theatre review

When workers planned production: the Lucas Aerospace plan


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Related links:

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleBirmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangleFood processing workers vote for action against miserly bosses

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

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triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Racism and capitalism, the link

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Marxist view of history

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: Opposing zero hours contracts

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day


triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleWho's watching who?: The fight for justice, trade union and democratic rights

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike


trianglePoverty, repression and fightback on the docks

triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out


triangleTower Hamlets Socialist Party: "You can't have capitalism without racism" (Malcolm X)

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