Reports and Campaigns
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Reports and campaigns:
Link the strikes - come to the NSSN conference
Rob Williams, Chair, National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN)
NSSN supporters have been racing around picket lines and strike protests as a succession of workers have taken action. In Sheffield, PCS members at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) were on strike to stop their office being closed, while across the city hundreds of BFAWU bakers' union members were on picket lines, day and night to stop their employer, Pennine Foods, imposing new inferior contracts.
In London, we supported the Unite strike at the Homes and Communities Agency as well as giving solidarity to the picket and protest of RMT members at Southern Rail.
In Glasgow, the ongoing 'Justice for Jannies' dispute saw striking Unison members protest outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and Glasgow City Centre. PCS Welsh museum workers have been continuing their indefinite strike.
Members of the UCU lecturers' union in higher education are taking national action at the same time that the National Union of Teachers is balloting for action. Steelworkers marched in London on 25 May to save their plants, jobs and communities, the same day as Bectu cinema members in Hackney are striking.
Every week sees more workers taking action - whether it is against their private sector employer or increasingly against what they see is a government that is weak and divided.
The question is how do we bring these struggles together, to make a breakthrough against the bosses' offensive and the Tory cuts and their new anti-union laws?
The teachers pushed the Tories to make a partial retreat over forced academies and now want to win further concessions. The junior doctors' tenacious action forced Jeremy Hunt to the negotiating table. BMA doctors' union members will now decide if enough has been won and if they need to take further action.
But if, as the NSSN has argued, the TUC had organised mass solidarity action, as called for by the PCS and the Fire Brigades Union, the Tories and their planned imposed contract could have been totally defeated already, opening up the possibility of a major crisis for the government and even its removal.
It is no accident that the recent BMA's junior doctors conference called for the union to work closely with other unions. If the new offer is rejected, we encourage the BMA to demand to speak at the TUC general council about a united struggle to support them, the campaign to save the NHS bursary as well as defending the NHS.
The NSSN's 10th annual conference is in London on 2 July. Hundreds of union reps and activists alongside anti-cuts campaigners will be meeting together to discuss the multitude of disputes and campaigns.
We will be providing a platform to every strike that is going on to build solidarity as well as learning the lessons from the ones that have taken place. But it will also be a 'council of war' to discuss how the rank and file of the union movement can put maximum pressure on the union leaders to call the mass co-ordinated action that is needed to defeat the Tories.