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Come to the NSSN conference: unite the fightback!
The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference on 26 June promises to be the most important conference in the NSSN's relatively short existence. It will be a focal point for all those who are prepared to fight back against government attacks.
Bill Mullins, Socialist Party industrial organiser
Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has promised "painful cuts" and "difficult decisions on pay, pensions and benefits" which will affect "our whole way of life". This spokesman for British capitalism has spelled out in as clear a language as you can get what he intends to do to working people and their families. Nothing is sacred in the plans now beginning to be outlined by Cameron and Clegg's coalition government.
The influence of the NSSN and its supporters in the wider trade union movement has never been greater, with four national unions backing it - PCS, CWU, RMT and POA, along with hundreds of trade union branches, shop stewards and activists.
The officers of the NSSN will be drafting up a statement to go to the conference. Socialist Party members on the officers' group will be proposing a programme of action for delegates and visitors to fight for in their respective unions and workplaces.
But we will also propose that the NSSN reaches out to the wider community which is increasingly feeling the effects of the government cuts.
The event will have at least ten workshops, the subjects including: young workers, migrant workers, climate change and fighting racism as well as fighting cuts and redundancies and the anti trade union laws.
In recognition of the international nature of the capitalist crisis, and as a contribution to the European solidarity week of action, initiated by MEP Joe Higgins, the afternoon plenary session is being set aside for speakers from trade unions in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Britain.
We will be proposing that the NSSN demands that the trade unions nationally organise the fightback against the cuts, starting with a massive mobilisation of all the public sector unions in a demonstration.
This is already being proposed by the civil service union PCS. At the recent PCS national conference, a resolution was passed calling on the TUC to organise this as soon as possible. In our view this should take place soon after the next budget cuts are announced on 22 June.
The PCS, as one of the most left unions in Britain, is resurrecting the spirit of 2005, where most of the public sector unions came together in an alliance against the Labour government's proposals to reduce the pension rights of millions of public sector workers.
The threat to take strike action by the unions, led by the PCS, forced the government into its only retreat in the face of the trade unions in its then eight years of existence.
The PCS will seek to get on board as many of the other unions as possible. But the struggle cannot wait forever. It might be that an 'alliance of the willing' is built - that is those left unions such as PCS, RMT, FBU and the POA and others, could come together to act if the TUC drags its feet.
The NSSN can act as a means of bringing this together if necessary. As part of that we'll propose that the NSSN calls a lobby of the TUC conference in September.
The campaign for united action, starting with a national demo, leading to unified strike action across the public sector, should also be taken up at a local level by NSSN activists in their unions and local communities.
Even now public meetings and activity are being organised in many communities. The NSSN, in cooperation with local trade union branches and trades councils, can play a very important role in building up an unstoppable head of steam in the next few months.
Most of the capitalist press expect resistance to the cuts being proposed. But what is required above all is the organising of these campaigns into a mighty force locally and nationally.
NSSN conference 2010
Saturday 26 June, 11am-4.30pm
South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London NW1 1RG (near Kings Cross/St Pancras).
To register send £5 to NSSN, PO Box 58262, London N1P 1ET, with your details, including workplace and trade union. Encourage your trade union branch or workplace to sponsor the conference - suggested minimum £20.
In The Socialist 9 June 2010:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
Environment and socialism
News and comment