At the North West AGM of the National Shop Stewards Network in Manchester on 17th July, 30 trade unionists heard Steve Acheson, blacklisted electrician, speak on the recent Besna contract victory and the continuing battle against blacklisting.
Many of those attending were construction workers and they lambasted the mostly unelected trade union officials in Unite and Ucatt for their persistent failure to lead a struggle for members and, in some cases, for collaboration with blacklisting.
Alongside these rank and file activists, including Mick Abbott of the Justice for Shrewsbury Pickets campaign, were a Unison NEC member, a PCS sector NEC member and the PCS regional vice-chair, others from Unison, NUT and Unite Health, plus two former Liverpool 47 councillors.
Several speakers made the link between trade union leaders winding down action when they should be escalating it, as in the pensions dispute, and Labour councillors who simply pass on Tory cuts.
In Salford, one Unite official is now an assistant mayor charged with getting rid of mental health staff.
There was warm endorsement of Tony Mulhearn’s nearly 5,000 votes for mayor in Liverpool, and a welcome for the recent PCS vote to give the union the authority to stand or support candidates in national elections.
The meeting heard a report from the NSSN conference in London in June with its call to turn the TUC demo on 20th October into a launch pad for a one-day general strike.
We also agreed to support the NSSN lobby of the TUC on 9th September, hopefully with financial support for transport from PCS.
The meeting also agreed support for Campaign Kazakhstan and for the ongoing battles for reinstatement of Shana Begum of Bolton University students union, and Martin Hedges, a victimised TSSA rep.
Following the NSSN conference’s Guide to Action we plan to meet quarterly from now on and really build the NSSN in the North West.
The following evening Bolton Trades Council also agreed to support the NSSN lobby of the TUC.