South Asia tags:
Tamil Solidarity -: Successful northern conference
THE NORTHERN conference of Tamil Solidarity took place in Manchester on Saturday 6 February with a dozen members of the Tamil speaking community in attendance.
International organiser of Tamil Solidarity, Senan, spoke on the recent Presidential election in Sri Lanka and its aftermath (see last week's Socialist).
A wide-ranging discussion followed covering the role of the media, the fight against racism, the position of exiled Tamils, the demand for the right to self-determination, and the struggle to build independent trade unions in Sri Lanka.
There was also a discussion on the tactic of boycotting Sri Lankan goods (eg garments imported by Marks and Spencer) to put the Sri Lankan government under pressure. However, this risks alienating Tamil and Sinhala workers who could lose jobs as a result.
There was also strong support for the trade union demand that UK companies ensure all their suppliers pay trade union rates, observe health and safety requirements etc.
Christian Bunke, speaking as a committee member of Manchester National Union of Journalists (NUJ) who sponsored the conference, stressed the importance of links between UK unions and their equivalents in Sri Lanka. The state-sponsored threats to journalists in Sri Lanka are well-known to his members.
Tamil Solidarity has much work to do. We have already won affiliation from Manchester NUJ and Salford Trades Council. We will be speaking soon at Manchester Trades Council and we hope that will bring more invitations. A committee has been elected with reserved places for trade unions who affiliate.
The collection raised over £90. We ended with a short protest outside the conference in Piccadilly Gardens.