SWP industrial organiser Charlie Kimber opened the session saying, “Current anger over the pay freeze can be a lightning rod for a raft of issues. It also encourages workers in different unions to push for joint action.
“However, the union bureaucracy is holding back the fight against the government because it is wedded to the Labour Party.
“Governments of the 1960s and 1970s largely got away with their attempts to implement pay freezes in their first year, but they came under immense pressure in subsequent years.”
In the discussion a wide range of activists – from both the public and private sector – spoke of the anger at the government’s attacks, and the importance of political rank and file organisation to combat them.
A London Underground worker explained that the success in last year’s Metronet dispute “was dependent on activists recognising that theirs was a political dispute, and that the government was the target”.
A Unison steward from Glasgow said recent disputes in the city had shown the importance of winning support from both workers and service users.
There were cheers for a Manchester striker who discussed the campaign in defence of Karen Reissmann, and for victimised Unison activist Yunus Bakhsh (see » Defend Yunus Bakhsh).