Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2012

Socialist Party Congress report: Trade unions and workplaces

Preparing for the struggles ahead

At the Socialist Party's national congress on 10-12 March, the discussion on developments in the trade unions was introduced by Rob Williams. He proposed, and it was unanimously agreed, to send messages of support to the Remploy workers facing a battle to keep their factories open and to the MMP packaging workers in Bootle who are also fighting redundancies foisted on them by a vicious employer.

The conference erupted in cheers as delegates agreed to send congratulations to the construction workers who have defeated the big construction companies' attempts to slash their wages and working conditions.

Rob graphically set out what workers are facing in the age of austerity. In the public sector, especially in local government, the Con-Dems have been able to push through cuts, a pay freeze, redundancies and privatisation - impossible without the collusion of Labour councillors and often a defeatist role played by trade union bureaucrats.

But the anger and frustration about all these attacks has been concentrated on the pensions dispute. That battle, and the willingness to fight of public sector workers, has had an affect on the private sector by legitimising struggle again. There has been a rash of disputes, notably those reported on in the Socialist, such as Unilever, Wincanton and the Stagecoach bus drivers.

The correct tactics and strategy being adopted by the leadership of the civil service union PCS, which includes Socialist Party members, has been important. The Left Unity conference on 7 January played a vital role in keeping united national action on the agenda.

The pensions struggle is continuing, with the planned strike on 28 March - and it could reignite. But whatever happens it has helped to reinvigorate the fighting spirit within the trade unions and it has paved the way for the battles to come, including over the NHS.

The construction workers' battle showed the complexities within the trade union movement - the need to go through the official union bodies as well as organising rank and file action. The trade union officials involved were largely weighed down by past setbacks and the bold and imaginative methods used by the rank and file were essential in igniting and spreading the dispute. But the employers only backed down after there was an official strike ballot.

Through all of these disputes the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has played an increasingly important role and the conference on 9 June should further develop its significance as a fighting organisation for active trade unionists.

The discussion ranged across many unions and workplaces, delegates explaining how future battles will emerge. In education for example, school teachers are taking action against privatisation and cuts, as well as pensions, the action taken by the NUT having an influence on the other teaching unions.

Affiliation to the Labour Party was another theme, with a member of Unison pointing out how the confidence in Labour has been severely dented after all the cuts being implemented by Labour councils. Only one third of Unison members were paying into the affiliated political fund anyway.

The long-running witch-hunt against Socialist Party members in Unison is an indication of the fear the union leadership has of the arguments for a fighting democratic union. And the repeated failure of the witch-hunters to win the arguments at employment tribunals is an indication of their political weakness.

Several delegates mentioned the importance of selling the Socialist in workplaces. Many workers will take out subscriptions to the paper, especially if the content is used to develop workplace discussion groups and some will be convinced to join the Socialist Party by what they read.

The lively and interesting discussion and the summing up by Jane James, from the executive committee, really underlined the important positions many Socialist Party members have in the trade unions and the necessity of continuing the preparation for the forthcoming battles.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 15 March 2012:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Resist Cameron's cold cruelty

Fight the cuts - for a workers' alternative

Fight back against attacks on pensions

Those fracking Tories

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

Construction workers fight on

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

Widespread fraud alleged as Putin wins presidential poll

Kazakhstan: Oilworkers' lawyer freed from prison

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

National demo needed to save our NHS

Liberals' 'democratic' conference

Fighting Con-Dem attacks on education

14 March - Socialist Students get a response

Housing crisis in London

Library cash goes to supermarket bosses

Coventry: Fight for a socialist alternative

May Day greetings

Socialist Party congress

Socialist Party Congress 10-12 March 2012

World developments show - capitalism is crisis

Trade unions and workplaces

Britain: working class begins to 'rise like lions'

Building the Socialist Party: 'year of the branch'

Young, socialist and proud to be!

Reviews & readers' comments

'Westenders' - omnibus edition

The best of 'literary fiction'


Home   |   The Socialist 15 March 2012   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  

Related links:

Socialist Party:

trianglePortsmouth Socialist Party: How can the NHS be defended from the Tories?

triangleYork Socialist Party: Perspectives from the National Commitee

triangleLively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference

triangleTremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference

triangleSuccessful Socialist Party Wales conference sets tone for the year ahead


triangleUnison national women's conference

triangleSupermarket's slash jobs - union fightback needed

triangleUniversity workers' walkout for decent pensions

triangleFor workplace trade union organisation against sexual harassment


triangleNHS - build the fightback

triangleNHS we're ready to fight

triangleLocal government workers' reps reject 2% pay offer

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Outrageous sentence for TUSC agent in 'misleading electors' court case


Tamil Solidarity

Facebook sides with state repression - reinstate the Tamil Solidarity page



How can students and young people fight the Tories?


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland talks process paralysed



Like rats from a sinking Ukip



Blairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor



Tories raid 1bn from NHS facilities budget - unions must act



Usdaw victory - Socialist Party member Amy Murphy wins presidential election


Tamil Solidarity

Tamil youth march for justice


Foreign Aid

Oxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity



Building support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections



What we saw: Tory-Blairite EU love-in



Rent doubles in a decade: cap rents, build council homes!


Public ownership

McDonnell says Labour would put services 'irreversibly' in workers' hands



We can win the fight for the NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018