Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/593/8043
The Socialist 15 September 2009 |
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TUC conference: Fightback rally
I JOINED trade unionists from my local PCS branch on their way to Liverpool to join a rally on the eve of the TUC conference. The 200-strong rally encouraged trade unions to fight for jobs and decent conditions and against privatisation. Its message was - 'why should we pay for the bosses' crisis?'
Bob Crow of the RMT deplored the Tories' anti-trade union laws, still operating under New Labour. He described the "revolving door" where some union leaders meet government ministers, go in with nothing and leave with nothing! And then the same government ministers sit down with the bosses to give them what they want.
Tracey Edwards, of the PCS union, said it was vital that young people fight for jobs and spoke of the scandal of 600,000 school and university leavers without a prospect of employment. If the government can bail out the banks to the tune of billions of pounds, then why can't it provide jobs for us?
Glenn Kelly and Yunus Bakhsh of Unison (in personal capacities) railed against the hypocrisy of trade union leaders in witch-hunting left activists, whose only 'crime' was to organise and stand up for their members.
Socialist Party member Glenn Kelly said that Unison should go further than simply threatening to stop donations to its Labour-sponsored MPs and emulate the majority of its members who refuse to give anything to New Labour.
Keith Gibson, one of the leaders of the successful Lindsey Oil Refinery jobs disputes' spoke about the strikers ejecting the BNP from the picket lines and about how the intervention of the Socialist Party was able to cut across the nationalist slogan of 'British jobs for British workers'.
Lastly, there was a very moving contribution from one of the Shrewsbury pickets [24 trade unionists were tried following the 1972 building workers' national strike], who included Des Warren and Ricky Tomlinson. He reminded us of their campaign for a public inquiry to expose their frame-up by the state.
Altogether an excellent and inspiring rally - but the fighting talk now needs to be matched by action from the major trade unions. They need to stop funding New Labour and begin funding genuine, working-class struggles.