Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/493/2569
The Socialist 28 June 2007 |
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National Shop Stewards network
Rank and file getting organised
HUNDREDS OF trade union shop stewards and workplace reps will be attending the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference in London on Saturday 7 July. This launch event could be very significant for the trade union movement in Britain.
Rob Williams, Unite Convenor, Swansea Visteon Plant (personal capacity)
Coming as it does in the middle of the postal workers' dispute and the possible sell-off of Land Rover and Jaguar, many stewards see that a grassroots organisation is vital as we all face managerial neo-liberal attacks. There is a real opportunity to step up the fight for our members as well as making a statement of intent to new prime minister, Gordon Brown.
The NSSN was initiated by the rail and transport union RMT last autumn in an initial conference. It is no accident that RMT and the other fast-growing union, PCS, have played leading roles in forming the network.
These two unions realise the importance of developing a strong shop stewards' organisation as the basis for trade unionism today. Stewards are the workplace leaders on the shop floor, fighting the everyday battles alongside their members that make unions relevant and necessary.
The steering group elected at the initial conference is made up of ordinary rank and file stewards and this founding conference is aimed at rank and file representatives too.
We are delighted that Bob Crow (RMT) and Mark Serwotka (PCS) will be speaking but this is also an opportunity for stewards to meet and learn from each other in the main sessions and commissions. These will include discussions on a wide range of issues such as fighting the anti-trade union laws, organising migrant workers and defending our pension rights.
We have learned in the Visteon plants over the last two years, that without shop stewards and an organised shop floor, it is impossible to resist an ever more aggres-sive management. The pressure in the trade unions goes up from the members via the stewards to the officers, not downwards.
If you are a steward or want to become one, your place is at this conference... and bring your workmates!