Leicester NEU coach. Photo: Heather Rawling
Leicester NEU coach. Photo: Heather Rawling

‘Come to our conference to build solidarity with the current strikes and to discuss how to prepare for the battles ahead’

The following letter has been distributed by the National Shop Stewards Network, ahead of its conference in London on 24 June. Members of the Socialist Party, activists in their trade unions will be attending, and campaigning for the fighting trade unionists we have met through the strike wave to come and join the discussions too.

Dear comrade,

We are writing to shop stewards committees, union branches and trades councils on behalf of the National Shop Stewards Network, to ask you to consider sending a delegation to our national conference taking place at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London from 11 am to 4.30 pm on Saturday 24 June, 2023.

Our Network was initiated by the RMT in 2006 and now also has national support from Unite, CWU, NUJ, NUM, POA, BFAWU, NAPO and FBU, as well as many trades councils and individual branches in other unions.  This will be our sixteenth national conference, but in our opinion, it will be the most important yet.

We will be meeting after a year when workers have suffered the steepest fall in our real incomes for half a century. It has also been a year when the working class has refused to accept the misery on offer from the Tory government and employers. Strike action has taken place on a bigger scale than at any time since the late 1980s. In 2017, strike figures were the lowest in history, yet in the current strike wave we have seen two days where over half a million workers have walked out together in mass co-ordinated strike action.

While a number of disputes are ongoing, some have been settled. The results vary, but every public sector strike has forced the Tory government to step back from their initial refusal to negotiate. And in the private sector, some important victories have been won. The last year has proven that striking works, but the cost-of-living squeeze on workers is unrelenting.

Alongside how to build solidarity with the current strikes, key questions for discussion at the Network conference will therefore include:

How can we be better prepared for inevitable future strikes?

It is possible to ‘all strike together’ in a 24-hour general strike?

How can we fight the threat from the latest Tory undemocratic anti-union ‘minimum service’ legislation?

Hundreds of thousands of workers have been on strike for the first time. Many hundreds, if not thousands, have become workplace reps or stewards for the first time.

Our conference will bring together active rank-and-file trade unionists – both new and longstanding – from across the whole of the trade union movement, including every union that has been involved in strike action. If members of your branch would like to take part in that kind of discussion, please consider sending them to our conference. All union members are very welcome to attend and to fully participate in the discussion.

We have a website, Facebook group, Twitter account, and a regular weekly e-bulletin. Thousands of reps and activists across the trade union movement currently receive it. All are available to trade unionists and their organisations to publicise their disputes, events etc. Please feel free to use these platforms. Invitations to speak at your union meetings are also welcome. If you would like more information please get in touch.

Yours in solidarity,

Rob Williams NSSN Chair

Katrine Williams NSSN Secretary

2023 National Shop Stewards Network Conference

Saturday 24 June

Conway Hall,

London WC1R 4RL