Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 November 2015

TUCG anti-austerity meeting report

Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and supporters at a rally, photo by Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and supporters at a rally, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Neil Cafferky

Over 700 gathered at Westminster Central Hall on 21 November to attend the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) meeting titled: 'After the Corbyn victory, build the fight against austerity'.

The TUCG was set up by now shadow chancellor John McDonnell alongside several left unions such as the RMT, FBU, PCS, CWU, BFAWU and POA. The initiative of the TUCG in calling the meeting was significant.

In the past few months the largely inert response of the TUC towards the Tory anti-trade union bill has created a vacuum that the TUCG has stepped into, organising protests and lobbies with the assistance of organisations like the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN).

With this meeting the TUCG has taken the battle onto the political plane by organising a conference in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), photo by Senan

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Significantly, recognising that the struggle to defend Jeremy Corbyn needs organised trade union support, Matt Wrack (general secretary of the FBU firefighters' union) and Mark Serwotka (general secretary of the PCS civil servants' union) used the event to announce the setting up of a trade union Momentum.

Anti-union bill

The opening session discussed fighting austerity. Inevitably much of the discussion focused on the threat of the Tory anti-trade union bill.

Speaking from the chair POA prison officers' union general secretary Steve Gillan reminded the audience his union defies the law every time they go on strike. CWU general secretary Dave Ward injected a note of urgency about the bill. He said all six million TUC members should be getting a letter to their homes informing them of a day of action against the anti-trade union bill.

The middle session with John McDonnell and former Greek finance minister Yiannis Varoufakis speaking attracted the most attention, clearly demonstrated when about half the meeting left straight after Varoufakis finished speaking. He was given a hero's welcome by the audience.

Varoufakis has gained a certain anti-austerity authority in the minds of many people from his initial stance towards the Troika in the early days of the first Syriza government. The fact that he presided over a catastrophic defeat for the anti-austerity platform Syriza was first elected to does not as yet seem to have dented his appeal to some, at least outside Greece.

EU referendum

While skillfully exposing the failure of austerity policies to lead the capitalist economy out of the Great Recession, he admitted that his alternative proposals to boost demand were not aimed at replacing capitalism but saving it.

Asked about the upcoming European referendum he warned the audience "You cannot escape from Europe. You must stay in and help us democratise it". Evidently, Varoufakis is asking British workers to give a vote of confidence to the anti-democratic institutions of the EU that were instrumental in crushing the aspiration of Greek workers to exit austerity earlier this year.

John McDonnell warned that George Osborne's economic policy is in chaos. British manufacturing is likely to go into recession later in the year while the deficit continues to climb higher. He reported that many local councils are now at breaking point. Rob Williams, NSSN chair, asked from the floor if Labour councils would come together to defy the cuts imposed by Tory central government.

John said he intended to call a national conference of councils to campaign against the cuts from central government. This conference would be open to campaigning organisations. This could be good step forward for the anti-cuts movement.

Council cuts

However on the question of councils refusing to implement cuts he appeared to equivocate, citing the fear that council officials could intervene if elected councillors stood up to the government.

This stance was in stark contrast to John's earlier praise of the direct action, civil disobedience campaigns of Disabled People Against Cuts or his endorsement of illegal strike action by trade unions that might fall foul of the anti-trade union bill.

If disabled people and trade unionists can defy the government what could elected councillors backed by a mass campaign and the considerable powers and assets of a local council achieve?

The final session was on building the alternative. With the recent attacks on Corbyn from the Labour right wing still fresh in the press, much of the discussion focussed on defending his leadership.

Matt Wrack labelled the most vociferous anti-Corbyn Labour MPs as 'enemies'. Alongside Mark Serwotka he called for a trade union Momentum with the aim to "organise, organise, organise."

If it recognises that the battle cannot be restricted to the channels prescribed by the Labour Party rule book, but mobilises forces of struggle inside and outside the Labour Party, a trade union-led organisation like this could play a central role in the events ahead.

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

In The Socialist 25 November 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Back doctors' strikes

Stop the Tories' war on Syria

Autumn statement: bonanza for bosses, pain for us

Police finally own up to spies' relationships with target women

Transgender woman dies after spiteful courts pick men's prison

'Antibiotic apocalypse': profit system holds back research

Sun's racist lie about Muslim support for terror

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Socialist change not climate change

International socialist news and analysis

Bombing Syria won't stop Isis

Dictatorship's methods still reign in 'democratic' Chile

Myanmar: electoral defeat for the military, renewed class struggle ahead

Workplace news and analysis

Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn

Lambeth library workers' wildcat strike

"I'm voting for Roger because I believe we need change in our union"

Steelworkers demand government action to Save Our Steel

Firefighters rally to defend pay and conditions

Solidarity with sacked BT worker

Protest demands reinstatement of John Vasey

Workplace news in brief

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Tory MP made me sick with tax credit cut lies

Transgender access to healthcare is worsened by cuts

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Waltham Forest march demands homes for all

Fire cuts cost lives

Save Dorothy Lucy centre


Home   |   The Socialist 25 November 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleNHS pay: Reject the Tories' divide and rule offer

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleLeaked pay deal: fight for a genuine pay rise

triangleToys R Us, Maplin: worsening retail crisis claims more jobs

triangleNHS - build the fightback


triangleCampaigners continue to demand Chorley A&E is fully reopened

triangleSainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!

triangleStrike continues: set dates for next national action

triangleDetermined UCU strikers: We're out to win!


triangleFor a fighting, democratic Labour Party

triangleCorbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangleLabour 'purge' furore really just democracy

Trade union:

triangleWoolwich ferry workers win automation campaign

triangleFor workplace trade union organisation against sexual harassment


trianglePassing the council cuts test


triangleJeremy Corbyn and Brexit

John McDonnell:

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


triangleFire service victory


triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap


triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action


triangleSchool strikes against academy management


triangle15 years since the invasion of Iraq: what we said


triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: We're all under attack - TUC call a general strike

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleWhole lotta shakin' goin' on in DOO dispute


trianglePCS: Re-elect the left and fight for decent pay


triangleNSSN conference moves

Matt Wrack:

triangleUnions call for action after Grenfell

Mark Serwotka:

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

Labour Party:

triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNSSN pre-TUC rally

Shop Stewards:

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting


triangleKFC delivery crisis: make the bosses pay, not the workers!


triangleWe feel that we will win - a striker speaks


triangleThe Socialist inbox

Trade unions:

trianglePCS executive agrees next steps in pay campaign

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



For a fighting, democratic Labour Party



Social media - the potential and the limits



NHS pay: Reject the Tories' divide and rule offer



Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit



Passing the council cuts test


Them & Us

Them & us



Cuts harm kids' health



The Blairites are NHS privatisers - to save it means sacking them



Hands off free school meals!



Russia, spies and nerve agents



Zero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester



Spring Statement 2018: Tory austerity staggers on despite economic and political weakness


What we saw

What we saw



Sainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!



Profits up Wages down

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

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018