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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 June 2020

Why you should come to NSSN conference

Come to the 2020 NSSN conference (via Zoom!)

Come to the 2020 NSSN conference (via Zoom!)   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams , national chair, NSSN

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) Conference is always a vital forum for trade unionists. This year's conference is being held on Zoom on Saturday 4 July. It provides an opportunity to come together to discuss our experiences during these crisis-ridden times, and forge a strategy that protects our safety in the workplace, and defends our jobs and income.

During the Covid-19 pandemic many workers in the UK have realised the importance of the unions. Even before lockdown, an annual net increase in membership of 91,000 was reported. Although this might appear minimal, it marked a reversal of the continuous downward trend over decades.

But coronavirus has made workers see that when their health and livelihoods are at stake the protection from being organised collectively in a union is essential. Many unions have already seen significant rises in membership.

But at the same time, many union leaders succumbed to the idea of 'national unity' with the employers and the Tory government. This saw some unions defer pay claims and call off disputes in the 'national interest'.

But the bosses and Boris Johnson only know their class interest. This has defined the slowness of the government's response in moving to lockdown, which undoubtedly cost tens of thousands of lives, and the reckless opening of lockdown - all in the interests of protecting profit at the expense of workers' safety.

This has provoked another, more positive, development - union action, often from the rank and file. Health workers forced hospital management to supply necessary PPE. Postal workers in a whole number of offices took unofficial action to protect their safety. Moe, a Socialist Party member on London buses, led a successful campaign that resulted in the front doors being closed after over 30 drivers died of the virus.

Teachers and education staff have been responsible for the biggest government retreat over the premature wider opening of schools. This saw an explosion in union activity, mainly online because of restrictions. But the National Education Union organised a massive virtual meeting of over 15,000 members! It reports hundreds of new union reps and has recruited over 20,000 new members.

There are massive challenges ahead for workers, particularly as economic crisis unfolds. We are already seeing mass redundancies and closures threatened. But if unions give a fighting lead, they can become the focal point again for struggle.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 24 June 2020:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Lifting the lockdown: workers must not pay the price

Victory for Royal Glamorgan A&E!

Housing: act now to cancel Covid crisis rents and debt

Over 30% of children living in poverty

Fight back to stop Tories scrapping protections for children in care

International aid: Johnson's pie in the sky

Reading workers' movement responds to knife attack

News in brief

Them & us


Black Lives Matter

Young people fighting back: Jobs and homes, not racism

Lessons from the Black Panthers: "We're not going to fight capitalism with black capitalism - we're going to fight capitalism with socialism"

Towards an anti-racist school curriculum

Black Lives Matter protests: week three


International socialist news and analysis

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign


Wales

Tories sinking in Wales but no enthusiasm for Welsh Labour


Workplace news and analysis

Why you should come to NSSN conference

Fully fund schools - stand firm on safety

P&O: defend every job - nationalise the ferries

Workers need a 'new deal' - at least 12 an hour now!

Renationalisation of the probation service


Campaigns

It's time to join the Socialist Party

Selling the Socialist: we're back!

Fighting fund: help us smash our target!

Call for an increase in PIP due to Covid-19


Readers' opinion

A timely read about a pandemic that overwhelms society

The Socialist inbox


 

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