The Socialist 7 June 2007 |
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Come to the Shop Stewards' Network conference
THE FOUNDING conference of the Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), to be held in London on 7 July, is gathering widespread support wherever it is raised.
Already over a dozen union conferences have been leafleted. In some cases the NSSN project has been debated on the conference floor. At the Communication Workers' Union conference (see report page 11) the national executive agreed a resolution to support the NSSN.
The national executive of civil service union PCS has agreed to support it and donated £1,000 to its costs. Rail union RMT made an initial donation of £3,000 to get it off the ground. Other unions like the POA and the NUM have also made donations.
At the national trades councils conference, the TUC leaders ruled a motion supporting the NSSN out of order. But supporters organised a fringe meeting where over half the delegates turned up.
The most important work though will take place at ground level. So, all trade union activists should fight to convince local union branches and workplaces to support the conference and send delegates.
The steering group organising the conference met on 2 June and agreed that all shop stewards, workplace representatives and trade unionists should be invited to the conference, either as delegates or observers.
Delegates will be those who have sent for their credentials by post as well as others arriving on the conference day as delegates from their union organisations.
Undoubtedly some people will come as individual shop stewards or workplace representatives who have not had the opportunity of getting elected by their union organisation; they will also be allowed to be delegates.
A third category will be those trade union members who want to attend as observers only. They will be allowed to observe and speak but not vote at the conference.
The conference and workshops will be primarily addressed by active shop stewards and workplace reps.
Some left union leaders have agreed to speak, including PCS president Janice Godrich, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and RMT general secretary Bob Crow.
The conference will be asked to support a resolution from the steering group to develop and enlarge the NSSN's activities over the following 12 months. This includes:
1. Organising a mass lobby of TUC conference in Brighton in September, calling for the unions to step up their efforts to end the anti-trade union laws.
2. Supporting the PCS' call for a national day of action against the government's public-sector pay freeze.
3. Supporting all efforts to defend the NHS against cuts and closures by mobilising support for the proposed national demonstration in October.
4. Organising conferences of shop stewards and workplace representatives at regional level to mobilise local unions in support of those in struggle.
5. Organising a further national conference next year in the late spring.
6. Producing a short pamphlet on the need for a new shop stewards' movement.
National Shop Stewards Network Founding conference
Saturday 7 July, 11am - 5pm
South Camden Community School, Charrington Street,
London NW1. (near Kings Cross/Euston stations)