Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/21395

Posted on 15 September 2015 at 11:06 GMT

NSSN rally calls for mass action to 'Kill the Bill!'

Scott Jones

There was standing room only as hundreds of trade union activists attended the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) rally and lobby of the TUC in Brighton on 13 September. There were cheers and applause when the chair, Linda Taaffe, mentioned the victory of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party leadership election, demonstrating how it has lifted the confidence of all those who oppose austerity.

Linda Taaffe, photo Paul Mattsson

Linda Taaffe, photo Paul Mattsson

Along with this new mood is an ever-growing call for the TUC to call for mass, coordinated strike action to defeat the vicious new anti-trade union bill. Andy Richards, president of Brighton Trades Council, in opening the rally committed the trades council to supporting this action. This in many ways set the tone of angry opposition from each speaker to the anti-trade union laws and a commitment to fighting them.

Mick Cash, RMT transport union general secretary, deplored that there is some opposition to generalised strike action on the TUC general council, in contrast to rank-and-file reps and members, demonstrating the importance of the lobby.

NSSN lobbying TUC congress, 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson

NSSN lobbying TUC congress, 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, said:

"The victory yesterday by Jeremy Corbyn has changed everything. The vote we saw yesterday was a political revolution. We must build a mass movement against austerity and the anti-union laws.
The message must be simple - 'Cameron: we are going to take you down. Your anti-union bill and your cuts, you're going down because we are mobilising against you'.
If this goes into law, we want mass coordinated strike action."

Mark Serwotka, NSSN rally, 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson

Mark Serwotka, NSSN rally, 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants' union, called for united coordinated action on pay before going on to say:

"You have to pinch yourselves that a Labour leader is saying things that all of us agree with. If we are going to see any of those policies realised, we will not get that just through what Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party do in parliament.
If Jeremy Corbyn wants to win on those policies, he absolutely needs a mass vibrant movement. He needs the six-and-a-half million trade union members to ensure that we have that vibrant campaign through strikes, demonstrations, local campaigns, occupations."

Mark finished by stating that we must not allow the new laws to stop strike action and if the government follow through on their threat to use agency staff as scabs, there "must be mass pickets to stop them."

 Suzanne Muna

Suzanne Muna

Unite executive member Suzanne Muna, a rep in the Unite housing workers' branch, speaking in a personal capacity, called on the TUC to "act as the collective voice of the trade union movement" and to not only oppose the current anti-trade union bill but "repeal all the anti-union laws".

Dave Ward, CWU general secretary, hit headlines in the summer for his claim that there was a "virus" in the Labour Party and that Jeremy Corbyn was the "antidote". He spoke of his and the CWU's commitment to developing their relationship with the NSSN and said: "The NSSN is at the core of what trade unionism is all about."

Dave Ward, NSSN rally 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson

Dave Ward, NSSN rally 13.9.15, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

He was followed by John Vasey, a sacked Royal Mail rep, who is awaiting his appeal for unfair dismissal. John was sacked on a charge connected with alleged non-delivery of election material and spoke about the culture of threats and victimisation that is in place at his workplace and across Royal Mail. The NSSN calls on everyone to support John's campaign for reinstatement.

Rob Williams addressing the 13th September 2015 NSSN rally, photo by Paul Mattsson

Rob Williams addressing the 13th September 2015 NSSN rally, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

In every contribution the demand for the TUC to provide leadership and act boldly was raised. Ronnie Draper, leader of the bakers' union, said that he and "thousands" of other union members were prepared to go to jail for coordinating 'illegal' strikes if the new Tory laws are passed. He said: "I don't want to go to jail comrades - but I tell you, I will. And there will be thousands of others willing to as well."

He stated his belief that because of the government's plans to "gag" trade union members and make picketing almost illegal, the 2015 TUC congress is the "most significant for years." He ended by highlighting victories like at Gunstones bakery and in Pizza Express as guides to action and what can be achieved.

Trade unionists gathering near parliament for a Kill-the-Bill protest called by the bakers' union, 14.9.15, photo by Paula Mitchell

Trade unionists gathering near parliament for a Kill-the-Bill protest called by the bakers' union, 14.9.15, photo by Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Isai Priya, a young Usdaw shop steward in Tesco and Tamil Solidarity activist, spoke (in a personal capacity) about the current refugee crisis and the role the workers' and trade union movement can play, finishing with a demand to bring more migrant workers into trade union membership: "Go out and recruit a migrant worker today!"

Corinthia Ward, photo Paul Mattsson

Corinthia Ward, photo Paul Mattsson

Another young activist, Corinthia Ward from Youth Fight for Jobs, described the brilliant anti-austerity action they organised in Birmingham during the summer and how Youth Fight for Jobs wants to link up with trade unions to fight for a 10 an hour minimum wage, taking inspiration from the fight for $15 an hour in the United States.

Steve Gillan, photo Paul Mattsson

Steve Gillan, photo Paul Mattsson

"Prison officers have been criminalised when taking strike action for 21 years", reported POA general secretary Steve Gillan. "Since 1994 we have not been allowed to take lawful action. Our mantra is, if our members want to take action, we will." He ended the rally by explaining that this mantra should be taken on by all in the trade union movement as the Tory government looks to silence trade unions.

After the rally, a lobby took place outside the TUC congress as delegates arrived, with the NSSN supporters waving placards demanding to 'Strike together to defend trade unions!'

Cameron's Trade Union Bill is an extension and deepening of Thatcher's laws of the 1980s that were shamefully retained by the New Labour governments of Blair and Brown and delegates to TUC, from Unite, NUT, Usdaw and others spoke further during the lobby on the need to defeat it.

Organised from below, growing pressure on the tops of the TUC, allied to those unions and workers determined to take action, alongside the momentous victory of Corbyn, can lay the basis for historic steps forward in the months ahead.


Kill the Bill: defeat the Tories' anti-union plans

A new Socialist Party pamphlet

Available from Left Books, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD

020 8988 8789 www.leftbooks.co.uk

bookshop@socialistparty.org.uk

Make cheques payable to 'Socialist Books'


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 15 September 2015 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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






Related links:

NSSN:

triangleUnite agrees NSSN affiliation - come to the NSSN conference!

triangleHarrogate NSSN: Fight austerity in Harrogate

triangleSolid strike at Tesco Dagenham distribution centre forces pay talks

triangleUse TUC march as launch pad for action on pay

triangleRetail union backs zero-hour ban, leaders oppose rank-and-file coordination

Union:

triangleGreetings from readers of the Socialist

triangleGMB union: NHS reps reject Tory pay offer

triangleMcStrikers and young workers take centre stage at bakers' union 2018 conference

triangleDWP surrenders to union pressure - now vote Yes to smash pay cap for everyone

Trade union:

triangleDesperate divisions in Tories - Corbyn and unions must act

triangle'Made in Dagenham' Ford machinists pay strike 50 years on

triangleEast London housing workers fight privatisation of pay

TUC:

trianglePCS union launches strike ballot on pay

triangleWales TUC 2018: Socialist Party members challenge leadership at undemocratic conference

Strike:

triangleYorks NHS workers fight outsourcing

Unite:

triangleTransport for London to lose central grant: bus workers must prep for action

Trade unions:

triangleHow can we fight for trade unions that fight for women?

Shop Stewards:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

Royal Mail:

triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleUsdaw conference 2018

Prison officers:

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Suzanne Muna:

triangleUnion-led campaign beats Blairite attacks on homeless

PCS:

triangleCivil service pay strike ballot: vote yes!

Bakers:

triangleMcStrike: ballot for strike action at six McDonald's stores

Migrant workers:

triangleWorkplace news in brief

Mark Serwotka:

triangleConference 2018: members ready to fight to end pay misery

POA:

triangleVote Mike Rolfe for Napo general secretary

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

20/6/18

NHS

Save our NHS

20/6/18

Socialist

Desperate divisions in Tories - Corbyn and unions must act

20/6/18

Donald Trump

No to Trump's climate change chaos

20/6/18

The Socialist

1000 issues of the Socialist: A vital weapon standing in proud traditions

20/6/18

Them & Us

Them & Us

20/6/18

Refugees

Refugee suicide scandal - fight for jobs, homes and services for all

20/6/18

Universal Credit

Universal Credit delivers claimant misery and will cost more than it saves

20/6/18

What we saw

What We Saw

13/6/18

Trump

Five reasons to walk out on 13 July

13/6/18

Women

How can we fight for trade unions that fight for women?

13/6/18

Grenfell Tower

Grenfell: still waiting for justice

13/6/18

Them & Us

Them & us

13/6/18

London

Pay rises of 283% needed for most to afford London homes

13/6/18

Retail

Retail crunch: more giants on their knees - nationalise them now

13/6/18

Carillion

City vultures make millions from Carillion chaos

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

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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: 0784 114 4890

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

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999