The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) is hosting a rally and lobby of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Brighton on 11 September, to call for coordinated action of unions across the private and public sectors.
Workers from different unions and workplaces told the Socialist why they’re going, and why it’s important to encourage others.
“We’ll be joining the NSSN rally and lobby for a number of reasons. It shows the solidarity across unions. When unions come together it shows the force of collective action. It’s about the future fights that will take place. We need to strike, we can’t have a pay cut. We need strike action right across the board. A general strike needs to happen and we have to build the momentum towards that. The unions must fight industrially, but we also need the creation of a new working-class party, we need to find a new political home.”
Pete Randle, Coventry bin striker
“It would be great if some of our reps could go along to the NSSN rally and lobby, to meet other reps and activists to talk about the attack on the working class by the government. The bosses and the rich investors are getting richer whilst the working class is getting poorer. Low-paid families and some public sector workers are forced to use food banks. There are workers on zero-hour contracts with no sick or holiday pay.
“The Tory government is now planning to bring in laws to stop workers from striking. This has got to be the most undemocratic government ever. But unions are the most democratic movement ever. It’s the unions that brought about the NHS, free education, sick pay, welfare and holiday pay, and health and safety rules. It is time to fight back and redress the balance between rich and poor.”
Shaun Barber, welfare officer, CWU Mount Pleasant
“I’ve seen the NSSN come out and support railway workers in struggle for years, bringing solidarity to pickets up and down the country with no hesitation. I support their call to lobby the TUC, to call on them to organise a mass coordination of unions in joint action against this Tory government and profiteering employers. Enough is enough!”
Birmingham Aslef rail union member
“Local government workers are the lowest paid in the public sector. We have lost 27% of our wages since 2010. Members are angry as we cannot live on such poverty wages. We want to fight. And with other trade unions fighting it has really lifted the mood and given confidence to Unison members that we can win better pay if we all fight together. The NSSN rally and lobby of the TUC for coordinating strike action is really gaining an echo amongst workers. It is vital that we do all we can to build that mood! That is why I am attending the NSSN lobby and inviting everyone to come along!”
April Ashley, Unison NEC (personal capacity)
“I’m attending the NSSN rally as workers across the country are seeing their living standards decline week by week. As a PCS member and civil servant, my fellow workers and I delivered and continue to deliver vital public services – especially during the lockdown and pandemic. The government heaped praise on my department, calling it the fourth emergency service, yet has offered a pay raise of 2% in a time of massive inflation. Coordinated trade union action is the best way to secure the 10% rise and a living wage of at least £15 an hour that we need and deserve.”
Reece, PCS rep in DWP (personal capacity)
“The trade union movement as a whole needs to realise there’s a huge opportunity, based on what the RMT has started, to come together and build on the incredible breakthrough the RMT has had in the public sphere.”
Ken McCall, National Education Union district secretary, Hull (personal capacity)
“I’m an NHS worker. The pressures of work and in-work poverty are terrible. I’ve been a rep for over ten years and I cannot think of a more important time to attend a rally of all union activists to push the TUC to take action. The NSSN rally is giving us that opportunity, and I intend to use it. All union activists need to come together in solidarity to demand action.”
Sally Griffiths, Unison rep in the NHS (personal capacity)
“There’s never been a more important time for trade unions to coordinate and strike together. The NSSN has always played a role in promoting and supporting workers in dispute. As a tubeworker, I’m proud to be attending the NSSN rally and lobby of the TUC on 11 September.”
Lewis Peacock, RMT rail union member
Get your union branch or trades council to back the lobby
- The NSSN is supported by the following unions: Unite the Union, RMT, CWU, FBU, Napo, BFAWU, POA and NUM.
- In addition, the rally and lobby is supported by: Brighton Trades Council, Cardiff Trades Council, Coventry Trades Council, Swansea Trades Council, Barts Health Unite branch, Cardiff Unite, Coventry general Unite branch, Coventry local government Unite, Coventry Telecoms CWU, GMP London Print Unite branch, Housing Workers Unite branch, South Birmingham Unite, Waltham Forest Council Unite, Branches of Unison have supported the plan to lobby the TUC.
- To add your support, find out about transport, and to make a donation to the NSSN, go to: shopstewards.net