Barts Unite activists at the NSSN lobby of the TUC on 10 September, photo Socialist Party
Barts Unite activists at the NSSN lobby of the TUC on 10 September, photo Socialist Party

National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) statement

The NSSN welcomes the convening by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of a special Congress on Saturday 9 December. This is in response to the Tory government laying out “regulations for minimum service levels in rail, the ambulance service and border security. Ministers have said these new rules will be rushed into force by the end of the year. Ministers are also consulting on rules affecting workers in hospital settings, schools, universities and fire services.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The UK already has some of the most restrictive trade union laws in Europe. Now the Tories want to make it even harder for people to win fair pay and conditions. That’s why we are calling this once in a generation special Congress.”

The NSSN is organising a lobby of the special congress from 9-10am outside Congress House, 28, Great Russell Street, Camden WC1B 3LS. The Congress will take place from 10am-1pm.

NSSN chair Rob Williams said:

“This is a vital conference, which we welcome. We have been calling for it to be convened since the annual TUC Congress in September passed the motion that agreed the basis for the fighting strategy that the trade union movement and over 6 million workers need against the Tory minimum service levels (MSL) anti-union legislation.

“That motion stated that ‘Congress pledges 100% solidarity with any trade unions attacked under these MSL laws’ and included to ‘support demonstrations and hold a national march opposing the legislation and calling for repeal of the anti-union laws’ and ‘organise a special Congress, size to be determined, to explore options for non-compliance and resistance.’

“Therefore, the special TUC Congress must be a real ‘council of war’, setting out concretely the mass collective action needed for ‘non-compliance and resistance’. That should start with the announcement of a mass national demonstration, linking together the fight for the right to strike with the Tory cost-of-living squeeze, that has triggered the incredible strike wave of the last two years, the biggest level of workers’ action for over three decades.

“But it should also agree the process of solidarity action if, as a result of the Tory MSL legislation, any unions are fined or any workers are sacked.

“This is a massive moment. Workers are showing on a daily basis that they are prepared to fight to protect their living standards. The response of the Tories is to attack our rights. But this is a weak and divided Tory government, reeling from yet another crisis that has seen Braverman sacked, exposed for her and the Tories’ toxic divide-and-rule tactics. But if we fight together, we can defeat both these anti-union laws and Sunak’s Tory government.”