24 December 2010
Videos of Socialism 2010 now online
Leaders of the some of the most militant trade unions engaged in struggle today against cuts and sackings spoke at the Saturday and Sunday rallies of Socialism 2010, along with international speakers such as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Joe Higgins MEP and student leaders. Videos of the speeches from the Saturday rally are below. The Sunday rally speeches will be available in 2011.
Overview of Socialism 2010
A clear red thread during the weekend of 6 and 7 November tied the entire event together - the need to build a mass working class movement against all cuts and to fight for a socialist alternative to the "rotten stinking corpse of capitalism".
Fire Brigades Union
The first speaker was Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack. Matt described some of the outrageous tactics used by the employer in the London firefighters' dispute. These include training up a scab workforce, a "throwback to Victorian times", harassment of FBU members' families and the threat of mass dismissals.
Railway workers union
Alex Gordon, President of the railway workers' union, the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT), whose general secretary Bob Crow spoke at Socialism 2009, was the next to speak. In the face of huge cuts, "the only sane response is to build houses and create jobs". He called for international solidarity to fight the ConDem-type governments in every country.
Hugo Pierre, Socialist Party candidate in the recent Unison NEC election, insisted that at rank and file level Unison is a fighting union. But the witch-hunt of Socialist Party Unison members over false allegations of racism gives a glimpse of some of the obstacles facing campaigners in the union at present.
Claire Laker-Mansfield, Socialist Students national organiser, described how students at every level are expected to "pay more and more and get less and less". But she left no doubt that Socialist Students and Youth Fight for Jobs will be fighting to make sure that young people today "will not be a lost generation".
Part One: Cindy Sheehan, a leading US anti-war activist, travelled from the USA to begin a tour of Europe at Socialism 2010. Cindy gained media coverage when she camped outside President George Bush's residence while attempting to speak to him about the death of her son in Iraq.
Part one Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party, was the next speaker. Peter saluted Cindy Sheehan's announcement that she is considering standing for president of the USA on a left-wing, socialist programme, to provide working class people with a voice.
Part two As Peter explained, "anger and class bitterness will not be enough".
Part three "We need a clear strategy - we need a party of the working class here, in the US and internationally."
The next speaker was Yessenbek from the Kazakhstan 2012 movement. Yessenbek described the way the ruling elite has gorged itself on the resources and wealth of the country, while the working and poor masses are plunged into greater poverty, misery and insecurity.
Kazakhstan 2012, which involves CWI members, grew out of campaigns to defend people's homes against repossessions and to build independent trade unions. Now its programme aims to "change the country in the interests of the vast majority of people".
Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima, the Socialist Party's sister section in Greece was the final speaker. He welcomed us "on the road to Greece", the road to eight general strikes and a mass movement against cuts.
From May to July there was not a single day in Athens when there were no demonstrations and strikes.
Part one: The final contribution at the Sunday rally of Socialism 2010 was a rousing contribution from Irish Socialist Party MEP Joe Higgins. Joe remarked that in the Irish Republic the economic situation "is not simply a crisis but one of an absolute disaster".
Part two: Meanwhile the massive bailout of banks and financial speculators continues. "We will not pay this bill. "The Irish working class didn't create this crisis, we won't pay a cent to the dictatorship of finance capital," said Joe.
Continuing the theme of capitalist crisis and workers' struggles, Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, explained that the role of the Socialist Party is to arm the workers' movement with a strategy and programme of demands to develop these struggles.
"The struggles in France and Spain are extremely inspiring to trade unionists in Britain," said PCS president and Socialist Party Scotland member Janice Godrich.
Janice condemned the savage Con-Dem cuts made by millionaire cabinet MPs on low-paid PCS members. And, referring to the government's claim that the cuts affect all social classes in Britain, Janice replied that we're not 'all in this together', instead this is an ideologically driven assault on the working class.