The Organising for Fighting Unions (OFFU) meetings are winning backing across the trade union movement.
The meetings – presently planned for Sheffield, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester – are an opportunity for activists across the trade union movement to hear about each other’s struggles.
They can also offer practical solidarity, organise joint initiatives and debate the political stance to take workers forward.
The initial planning meeting in Bristol last week saw members of several unions come together to organise the details of publicising and building the meeting, but also to share in each other’s struggles.
A health worker spoke about the 3 March NHS protest in the city. A CWU member noted progress in the dispute against Capita and warned of the dangers of the government’s latest attacks. A T&G union member spoke about the lobby that night by care workers against the council’s plans for privatisation.
Others announced plans for a fightback against cuts in English language teaching for migrant workers and refugees.
In recent weeks activists involved in OFFU have hosted solidarity visits from JJB strikers, Fujitsu strikers and Manchester health strikers.
Jerry Hicks, former Amicus union convenor at Rolls Royce, told the meeting, “We want to be the place where everyone in the union movement can come together and make the links between, for example, the fight in the NHS, the civil service and the post.
“We want to be a forum for people fighting back in the public sector and the private sector.
“We want a broad meeting which enables people to hear the top speakers on the left and make contributions about their own struggles.”
The South Gloucestershire branch of the NUT teachers’ union has given £200 towards the cost of the meeting.
Paul Vernell is the branch’s membership secretary. “Four members of our branch committee went to the launch of OFFU last year in London,” he said. “So there was a very strong feeling to support the Bristol rally when we discussed it recently.
“A donation of £200 is more than we would normally give. But people are frustrated at the lack of united fightback by the unions – and hopeful that OFFU can play a role in building the resistance.”
In Birmingham there is also wide trade union support. Birmingham trades council president Dave Hughes told Socialist Worker, “We’ve paid the deposit for the OFFU rally venue and are encouraging our affiliates to send delegations and substantial donations.
“The trades council is very enthusiastic about this rally. We feel there’s a new generation of trade union leaders who are more willing to confront the Blair and Brown agenda of privatisation, job losses, cuts and poorer pensions.”
Birmingham NUT has contributed £100 towards the rally and is circulating details to all 500 schools in the city.
There is a great thirst for increased unity, coordination of action and more of a fightback in the unions. Every activist should be raising OFFU in their unions and passing the OFFU Workers’ Charter.
- Sheffield Monday 26 February, 7.30pm, Library Theatre, Tudor Square.
Phone 07810 824 223. Speakers include Mark Serwotka and Valerie Wise.
- Birmingham Monday 5 March, 7pm, Adrian Boult Hall, near Central Library, Phone 07971 679 883
- Bristol Wednesday 14 March, 7.30pm, Council House, Park Street. Speakers include Tony Benn.
- Manchester Wednesday 14 March, venue to be confirmed. Speakers include Bob Crow of the RMT.