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Conference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?
'John Smith', PCS union rep, Coventry
It is clear undercover surveillance of trade unionists and left activists has taken place - contrary to the myth that it couldn't happen in Britain.
Coventry Trade Union Council and the local Tom Mann branch of general union Unite held a conference in Coventry on 14 October. Entitled 'Who's watching whom - justice, trade union and democratic rights', the event drew 115 people throughout the day.
Ricky Tomlinson, known by millions for his role as Jim Royle in the BBC hit 'The Royle Family', was one of the main speakers. He described his victimisation for trade union activism which saw him receive a jail sentence! He gave a passionate speech which received a standing ovation from the entire room.
Dave Smith, author of 'Blacklisted', spoke about the blacklisting of trade unionists in construction.
Helen Steel spoke about her experience of abuse by an undercover policeman who started a false relationship with her before disappearing - all part of a spying operation targeting activists.
Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of civil service union PCS, spoke about surveillance and attempts to sabotage unions by the state. He highlighted the need for action on public sector pay.
The state actively works to undermine unions. This includes the CPSA in 1980s - predecessor of the PCS - following the election of John Macreadie as general secretary. John was a supporter of Militant (now the Socialist Party).
And the Socialist reported in 2016 on the activities of one 'Carlo Neri', who the police had placed at taxpayers' expense as a mole in the Socialist Party.
The event was illuminating and inspiring for all who attended. It helped remind us what we are up against in trying to build fighting, democratic trade unions - and ultimately, get rid of capitalism. However, the speakers were not pessimistic.
On the contrary, all who attended left the conference fired up and with a greater understanding of how the capitalist state works and the lengths it will go to. The system can be defeated by a mass movement armed with a socialist programme to change society.
- Watch the main speakers at tinyurl.com/WhosWatchingWhom