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From The Socialist newspaper, 30 January 2008

National Shop Stewards Network meetings

Yorkshire

"It took just six mobile phones and two hours to get 21,000 prison officers on strike!" National executive member Joe Simpson's account of how the Prison Officers Association (POA) organised their 'illegal' strike had an inspiring effect on the 40 union activists that attended Yorkshire's regional conference of the National Shop Stewards Network.

He said that the POA were now coming outside the prison walls to link up with other trade unionists and local communities. A new 'triple alliance' could be forged with the Fire Brigades Union and possibly the Police Federation.

The POA is considering running election candidates against New Labour in marginal constituencies with big prisons.

Two of the 'Burslem 12' victimised postal workers, Paul and Dave, gave a passionate report of their 13-month struggle against bullying Royal Mail management. Paul said that they had been accused of being militant but "being militant is only getting what you deserve."

Their six-week strike, backed by a 1,500-strong solidarity demonstration and rally has ended in a partial victory which will give confidence to other trade unionists fighting victimisation.

Marion Lloyd (PCS NEC) explained how years of broad left campaigning in her union had resulted in a left leadership prepared to lead action, which in turn had resulted in growing union membership and more reps coming forward.

Workshops were held on 'Building the Shop Stewards Network' and 'The Public Sector Pay Freeze' and a small steering committee was elected to co-ordinate future NSSN events in the region.

South West

THIRTY FIVE trade unionists met in Bristol on 26 January for the founding South West regional conference of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN). The vast majority were union reps and stewards belonging to a broad range of unions including GMB, Unite, RMT, CWU, PCS, NUT and FBU.

Domenico Hill, Unite rep Bristol and Socialist Party

Don Wood, from the Prison Officers Association (POA) national committee and Sally, a POA rep at Dartmoor Prison, spoke about their dispute against the government's removal of the union's right to strike. The government's intransigent stance means that there may well be further action following the mass walkout of prison officers last year.

Rob Wotherspoon, a CWU rep at Royal Mail in Bristol, summed up the experiences of last year's strike and the lessons to be drawn for the future. He confirmed that Bristol posties had voted 'no' by a large majority to the union executive proposal to accept the deal made with management.

He agreed that the union leadership had let postal workers down by calling off industrial action at the last minute. But he added that he thought it was a good thing that postal workers had stood up for themselves rather than caving in and that this was only 'round one'.

Socialist Party members argued that the NSSN should campaign for a one-day public-sector strike to bring together the various disputes that have flared up recently, and to call for decisive action to break the anti-trade union laws designed to cripple any union fightback.

The conference broke up into three separate meetings to discuss union work among migrant workers, how to build in the workplace and how to organise industrial action.

The broad range of unions represented at the conference shows that there is a growing frustration amongst rank and file trade unionists at the, at best passive, stance taken by most union leaderships. The NSSN has the real potential, if built properly, to start the rebuilding of unions from the bottom up as organisations fighting for the rights of working people.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2008:

End this market madness

No more school closures!


Education

Teachers' union calls strike ballot on pay

Anti-war protests save teachers

Labour councillors anger parents and tenants


Socialist Party news and analysis

New Labour attacking our vital benefits

Incapacity benefit cuts hit the sick

Hain resigns but stink of sleaze remains


International socialist news and analysis

Jail break from Gaza

Suharto: "One of the 20th century's biggest killers and greatest thieves"

US elections: The Barak Obama mirage


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS in crisis


Debt and Housing Feature

Debt and housing slowdown threaten Britain's time bomb economy


Socialist Students

Student elections: Not just a 'beauty contest'!

College students seek socialist ideas

Reality of London students' debt trap

More foo than fight as rockers agree to cross picket line


Marxist analysis: history

How Hitler came to power


Global Warming

Global warming, climate change and human activities - Part 2


Socialist Party workplace news

Burslem postal workers march back to work

Giving the real facts on Burslem strike

National Shop Stewards Network meetings

Police march for pay

PCS suspends strikes


 

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