Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 March 2010

National Shop Stewards Network

For undivided rank and file organisation

The steering committee of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) met recently and discussed a number of important issues, including preparing for the national conference on 26 June.

Bill Mullins

It also discussed a resolution proposed by Rob Williams, the convenor of the Linamar shop stewards in Swansea. The resolution concerned the Right to Work (RTW) organisation which had recently had its conference in Manchester.

Rob made the point that RTW had been initiated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and its allies and inevitably it would be seen as a rival to the NSSN. He said that even though NSSN had been in operation for at least three years, no one had come to it and said that there was a need for another rank and file organisation.

The SWP have never raised the idea in the NSSN of setting up RTW, even though they have ten members on the steering committee and two out of the nine officers.

The NSSN was set up in 2006 by the RMT, one of the most militant unions in Britain. It had its founding conference in 2007. Since then it has attempted to bring together workers at national, regional and local level facing attacks from the bosses.

It has assisted Ford workers in Southampton and GSK workers in Stevenage, both of whom were facing redundancies. It organised a national conference of workers in the car industry and recently organised a meeting in Teesside of Corus workers whose steel mill is facing closure.

As the resolution said: "The NSSN conferences attracted hundreds of shop stewards and workplace representatives as well as ordinary trade union members, and involved those leading from the front in serious battles with the bosses eg Lindsey, Linamar and Visteon. Workshop sessions involved migrant workers, young workers and students, women workers, and discussed fighting racism in the workplace.

"All were welcomed to participate, with a focus on shop stewards/workplace reps to establish some real weight to the organisation. This includes workers made unemployed, and youngsters in part-time jobs, a growing force, which will increasingly have to be taken up by the trade union movement generally and the NSSN in particular".

As other steering committee members said at the steering committee, if the SWP had at any time in the last three years proposed that the NSSN should widen its brief then this would not have fallen on deaf ears, but this has not happened.

Instead what has happened and will increasingly happen, is that the RTW organisation will look for support from the same trade union branches and workplace bodies that now give support to the NSSN.

The resolution made the point that: "This will only confuse the situation in the eyes of workers and has the potential to fragment the fight-back. We note that previous attempts of this character have failed, because, unlike the NSSN they have not been firmly rooted in the unions and workplaces, and have not been seen as an open unifying force."

This was referring to the SWP, in particular, setting up 'rank and file' bodies which have disappeared without a trace after a short time. One example of this was Organising for Fighting Unions, set up on the back of Respect, the electoral initiative.

The real reason behind the SWP's launch of RTW was given in their pre-conference bulletin in November 2009. They said: "We want to create and unite networks of resistance and solidarity".

In passing they dismiss the NSSN: "A welter of other initiatives exist... [including] the NSSN (launched in July 2007 by the RMT but now dominated by the Socialist Party, with the RMT's blessing)".

They later say that RTW "will not immediately knock aside every other campaign that is attempting to organise opposition to the recession".

The SWP have a track record of trying to dominate organisations and when they can't, they do their best to push them aside.

Socialist Party members in NSSN, which includes some of the best fighters in the trade union movement, will not let this happen. The NSSN should be allowed to develop as somewhere that ordinary workers, young or old, can come to get the support they need in the future battles against cuts, job losses and attacks.

The resolution moved by Rob ended by saying "this NSSN Steering Committee declines to accept the invitation of the offer of two seats on the RTW Steering Committee and urge all to channel their energies into the building of NSSN." It was carried by the NSSN steering committee by 19 votes to 10, with three abstentions. The 19 included someone - not in the Socialist Party - who reported that he went to the RTW conference in Manchester and found it to be a 'top down' organisation.

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

In The Socialist 10 March 2010:

Fight the cuts, not union members

Don't let Unison democracy go up in smoke!

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Young voters need real change

Socialist Party feature

Michael Foot - the end of an era

Socialist Party news and analysis

Trades Council demo unites Brighton fightback

Riot cops attack peaceful Sussex students' protest

Police clear path for racist EDL thugs

Anti-war campaigner Joe Glenton gets nine months

Civil servants strike

Civil Servants Strike reports (updated)

Solid two-day civil service strike shows anger of PCS members

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Hands off our NHS!

International socialist news and analysis

Palestine: 'The Wall Must Fall!'

Chile earthquake: Natural disaster, state catastrophe

Socialist Party campaigns

Debate on women's oppression: Socialists propose solutions

Waltham Forest day of action: Socialists and trade unionists make a stand

Canvassing for support for socialists in Lewisham

Build solidarity with Sri Lankan Tamils

Solidarity with Yarl's Wood hunger strikers

National Shop Stewards Network: For undivided rank and file organisation

Justice for the Shrewsbury pickets

Socialist Party workplace news

London Underground signals victory

Leeds university rally

CWU to put Royal Mail deal to ballot of members

Socialist Party review

Tower Block of Commons


Home   |   The Socialist 10 March 2010   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNSSN conference moves

triangleNSSN pre-TUC rally

triangleNSSN conference

triangleUnite day of action against blacklisting

triangleMixed-fleet workers show strikes get results

Shop Stewards:

triangleObituary: Derek Robinson, car workers' leader, 1927-2017

triangleNSSN meeting brings together workers in struggle

triangleStrike together for better pay

triangleTories weak: time for the TUC to act


triangleBirmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangleFood processing workers vote for action against miserly bosses

triangleTUC supports Birmingham bin workers


triangleAfter the Unite elections - now turn outwards

triangleTUSC: SWP suspends participation in England/Wales

Socialist Workers Party:

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



School strikes against academy management



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry



Hated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!

triangleMore Reports and campaigns 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