Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/546/6367
Socialist Party meeting
Building industrial militancy
Seventy five trade unionists packed into the Socialist Party's national trade union meeting on 30 August. It opened with Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe introducing a discussion on the situation in Britain today.
Peter underlined the seriousness of the economic recession we are beginning to experience. It is not on the scale of the 1929 depression but it will probably be more serious than in 1976.
Many workers are being forced into struggle, particularly over pay, although many of those are asking whether all trade union leaders are up to organising such a struggle. The general trend is that union leaders - usually linked to the Labour Party - try to dampen down struggles. There are, however, notable exceptions including the PCS civil service union, the RMT rail workers' union and the POA prison officers' union.
The task therefore is to build militant poles of attraction in all unions for workers that want to organise against the bosses.
Many speakers in the discussion drew on their experiences of organising strike action, including having to deal with reluctant local and national trade union officials.
But as Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS explained, in a personal capacity, his union has shown that the decisive factor in winning a dispute is the amount of leverage the trade union can deploy. And that leverage is built from winning decisive strike ballots, carrying the support of the membership and organising effective action. He concluded by emphasising that conditions are improving now for building wider industrial militancy and a political alternative to Labour.
In the second discussion, on organising in the trade unions, many speakers explained the advantage of being a Socialist Party member when organising in the workplace.
Even inexperienced members can play a decisive role in a dispute, having the backing of their local Socialist Party branch and the assistance of other members in the same trade union or industry. Examples were given of trade union members who have recently joined or want to find out more about the Socialist Party.
The inspirational effect of the discussions were shown in the impressive collection of £1,000 for the Socialist Party's fighting fund.
All Socialist Party members should make sure they get a report of the meeting at a future branch meeting.
In The Socialist 3 September 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party NHS campaign