A major public sector union’s annual conference has sent out a defiant message against the growing clamour from mainstream political parties for savage cuts.
As the NUT teachers’ union gathered last weekend, there was a sense that workers everywhere are facing similar attacks and that they must unite to fight them.
Delegates unanimously passed a priority motion defending public services on Monday.
It called for a “coordinated campaign of action” with other unions, “up to and including strike action where needed, to oppose pay freezes, threats to pensions and cuts to services”.
They also passed a number of important amendments.
One called for the TUC “to join with us in organising a co-ordinated ballot for a 24-hour public sector national strike” as a “swift response” to post-election cuts.
Delegates unanimously voted to condemn bosses who have used the courts to stop strike action and resolved to launch a “concerted campaign” to repeal the anti-union laws.
“This crisis was not caused by teachers, BA workers or rail workers,” said Liam Conway, proposing the amendment.
“The bosses are about to declare war on us through the courts. We must fight back.”
A collection raised £1,000 for the BA workers. A BA worker came to address the delegates—but felt too scared to speak after management intimidation.
Delegates also voted to support the Right to Work campaign conference on 22 May and the National Shop Stewards’ Network conference on 26 June. That should now be turned into delegations from every school.
Jason Hill from Stoke-on-Trent moved an amendment calling on the union to support teachers fighting the Nazi BNP, and encourage more NUT members to get involved in anti-Nazi campaigning.
He called on teachers to “drive the Nazis out of our schools”. Conference voted unanimously to support the amendment.
Delegates gave Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil service union, a standing ovation after he addressed them. They chanted, “The workers united will never be defeated.”
Conference called for the nationalisation of companies that threaten job cuts, building council homes, investment in clean energy and taking public control of banks where the government is the biggest shareholder.
The motion suggested raising the money to pay for such things by scrapping Trident nuclear weapons, taxing the banks and ending military occupations.
The conference starkly posed the question of who should pay for the crisis—and gave the clear answer that workers want to unite to make sure they don’t.