Some 180 trade unionists attended a conference on Saturday called by the South East Region of the TUC (Sertuc) in London in defence of public services. There was not only unanimous condemnation of privatisation but also a strong feeling that unions should be coordinating action to stop it.
Paul Mackney, general secretary of the lecturers' Natfhe union, called for a united demonstration and rally, backed by every union with members in the public sector, against privatisation.
He added, 'I felt physically sick when I saw Blair's alliance with right wing Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.' Eamonn O'Kane takes over as general secretary of the second largest teachers' union in England and Wales, the NASUWT, next week.
He 'warmly embraced' Mackney's call, and made a blistering attack on the drive for neo-liberal policies in Britain and 'across the Third World'. Heather Wakefield, a national officer of the Unison union, also backed the idea of a united demonstration.
Contributions from the floor centred on whether trade unions should continue to give money to Labour. That was combined with a clear desire for united action in defence of public services.