Carlisle CWU picket, 29.7.22, photo by Robert Charlesworth
Carlisle CWU picket, 29.7.22, photo by Robert Charlesworth

Brent Kennedy, Carlisle TUC president

The Cumbria Workers’ Rally brought almost 50 people together to hear local trade union reps and organisers give a picture of the bosses’ attacks. At the event, organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Carlisle and the northern region on 29 October, we heard that Unite the Union has won an extra 2% above the company’s pay offer at the Crown Bevcan factory.

Ahead of the strike ballot in civil service union PCS, a record number of workers at the Rural Payments Agency have joined the union, their workforce meeting was the best-attended ever, and two-thirds have already voted.

At the McVities biscuit factory, two-thirds have rejected the pay offer and voted for a strike. Attendance at union meetings has increased from 22 to 160.

With Royal Mail trying to break the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), a striking worker said concrete solidarity from other unions must include a central strike fund. They said there is no permanent solution to the problems at Royal Mail, short of renationalisation.

A striking BT worker thanked members of other unions for the continued support on the picket lines. While a striking rail worker said they would defy any new anti-strike laws.

Some speakers demanded that Labour commit to repealing all anti-union laws, and come out clearly in support of striking workers. Others criticised Keir Starmer for dropping popular nationalisation policies, and promising more austerity when in government.