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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2018

Unite union conference - drive out the Tories!

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Kevin Parslow, Unite LE/1228 branch secretary (personal capacity)

Two years ago, Unite the Union's policy conference met as the Owen Smith-led Blairite challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership took place.

So outraged was conference at this attack on Labour's first leader for decades to reflect the views of ordinary trade unionists, that it backed Jeremy's leadership and passed a resolution - moved by a Socialist Party member - supporting mandatory reselection of Labour MPs.

However, Labour's right remains a Trojan horse, despite last year's general election when they hoped Labour would be trounced and Jeremy would be forced out.

The tasks facing this conference are how to transform Labour into a fighting, socialist party - alongside building the union's industrial strength which combined can force out this weak Tory administration and elect a Labour government which can implement last year's manifesto.

Resolutions that should be supported include one from the London and Eastern Local Authorities Regional Industrial Sector Committee - which opposes cuts and privatisation, highlights the crisis in social care funding, while calling for a united campaign against austerity with trade unions and local councillors at the forefront.

If Labour councils don't oppose Tory austerity in practice by setting no-cuts budgets, workers can draw the conclusion that nothing has changed in Labour from the Blairite years.

This was the main lesson of the victorious Birmingham bin workers, when our members defeated the shameful attacks by a Labour council.

The Unite housing workers branch draws the lessons from the Grenfell disaster. It calls for a housing workers' and residents' campaign to prevent the austerity that created the conditions which led to Grenfell from recurring.

Bart's Hospital branch, which had a big campaign on pay among privatised health workers last year, urges the Trades Union Congress to take the lead in fighting the destruction of the NHS by opposing privatisation and fighting for a pay rise to end years of real cuts in health workers' living standards.

One of the most important debates will be on Brexit. This is important in the light of the statements by Airbus and other employers to reduce employment in Britain after it leaves the EU. But British capitalism, both inside and outside the EU, has been deindustrialising for decades and Unite needs to lead the fightback against a jobs massacre.

Conference two years ago, in the aftermath of the EU referendum, voted to defend collective agreements and oppose racism. Conference has the chance to vote for a socialist Brexit through the resolution, or composite, sponsored by Waltham Forest council branch.

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