Anti-cuts initiatives planned by new committee

Councils of every shade announce job losses

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) anti-cuts campaign is well and truly launched. The committee that was elected at the NSSN anti-cuts conference in January met on 2 February. The first meeting reviewed the conference and the challenges ahead for the anti-cuts movement and discussed some initiatives.

Rob Williams, Vice Chair, National Shop Stewards Network

The new committee comprises activists from the unions and the anti-cuts movement (see for details).

Alex Gordon, president of the RMT transport union and Ben Sprung, London regional organiser of the FBU firefighters’ union are members, alongside Dave Nellist, Coventry Socialist Party councillor.

Everyone agreed that the NSSN conference was a success. The serious debate on the way forward for the anti-cuts movement at the conference raised the bar in terms of the level of discussion and its democratic character.

Since the conference it has become even clearer why we need to oppose all cuts as councils of every political shade start to announce job cuts.

The committee agreed to support the demonstration in Cardiff called by the local anti-cuts campaign Cardiff Against the Cuts on Saturday 5 March against both the Tories and Lib Dems who will be holding conferences in the city on the same day.

We also agreed to launch a national petition demanding that Labour councils refuse to pass on the Con-Dem cuts. This petition will be presented to the Labour local government conference, which is also being held on 5 March in London.

We are looking to organise a march to, and lobby of, the conference to increase the pressure on Labour councillors to stand by their workforces and communities.

The meeting agreed to set up a website for the anti-cuts campaign which will complement the existing NSSN site and will carry details of anti-cuts events.

The committee is also writing to the various anti-cuts organisations, both locally and nationally, to call for a united struggle against all the cuts.

We will also write to the left unions in the Trade Union Coordinating Group, proposing an alternative platform of speakers at the TUC demonstration on 26 March so that the hundreds of thousands or more who should be there get to hear a fighting programme for the movement.

Providing a clear way forward for the struggle will help to ensure that the march is a new impulse to the anti-cuts movement not its end.

The anti-cuts committee will be helping to build the maximum turnout for the demonstration. In the preparation for and on the demo itself, we will calling for the unions to coordinate strike action to force the Con-Dems back.

The committee will be meeting regularly to review our anti-cuts work.

  • The NSSN steering committee will be meeting on 20 February to start organising its national conference in the summer.

Reply to SWP website “statement on the crisis in NSSN”

At the NSSN anti-cuts conference on 22nd January 2011 nearly 600 people – mostly workers with elected positions in trade union branches, trades councils, workplaces and anti-cuts alliances – came together and agreed to launch a national anti-cuts campaign.

Linda Taaffe, Secretary, National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN)

Most of the conference was devoted to a democratic debate over two motions. Motion ‘one’, from a majority of the NSSN steering committee, proposed that the NSSN launches an “anti-cuts campaign, bringing trade unions and communities together to save all jobs and services”.

Motion ‘two’, from a minority of the steering committee, proposed that the NSSN should not launch an anti-cuts campaign, and instead should “do everything constructive, through discussions with Coalition of Resistance, Right to Work and other groups, to build and launch a single national anti-cuts organisation early in 2011”

After the debate workplace and trade union branch representatives voted by 305 votes to 89 to support Motion ‘one’. The supporters of the majority motion made it clear that they would discuss with the other anti-cuts campaigns with the aim of exploring the extent to which united work could be achieved.

Unfortunately, despite trade unionists repeatedly appealing for all those present to accept the democratic decision of the conference and to work to build the NSSN, ten members of the Steering Committee have resigned, including the two Officers who are members of Right to Work and the SWP.

Now we find out, not as a result of the SWP contacting the NSSN, but via a statement on the SWP’s website, that the SWP, despite having resigned, are intending to come to the next steering committee.

The statement informs us that they will ask us to stand back from the decision (to form an Anti-Cuts Campaign) in order to reunite the NSSN! Yet it is them that has attempted to divide the NSSN by leaving it because they do not support a democratic decision to found an anti-cuts campaign.

They have not succeeded. The big majority of those who attended the anti-cuts conference found it inspiring, and self-evident that the NSSN should launch an anti-cuts campaign.

Left trade union leaders have since declared it “a resounding success”.

We stated at the conference that, behind the two resolutions, lay differences on what programme, strategy and tactics were needed to fight the cuts. SWP members speaking at the conference were outraged when we suggested that they ‘stroke the feathers’ of Labour councillors who were voting for cuts.

Yet only last week in Manchester a Right to Work leaflet calling for a lobby of the Labour council, said “we want to show the ConDem government that we will stand with our Councillors in opposing the cuts” without a mention of the fact that the councillors are the ones voting through the cuts!

The SWP talk of “independents” but we are trying to build an anti-cuts campaign with a real independent working class policy. In reality, none of the ten that have resigned are independent; they all have their own various political affiliations.

The vast majority of delegates at the conference who were real ‘independents’ supported the majority motion.

We are confident, and all the evidence of recent meetings around the country confirms this, that workers respond enthusiastically to our call for no cuts and a mass campaign.

We are now setting about working with all forces, who want to have a go, to build a united campaign that will help shake this government.