We have been warned what awaits us after the election.
Not by the politicians who remain remarkably coy about their plans to bridge the public sector deficit. But by the financial press that has revealed that the Treasury is working on plans to reduce public spending to an extent Margaret Thatcher never achieved.
None of Britain’s major trade union leaders has suggested even the outline of a plan to meet this attack. The Right to Work emergency conference on Saturday 22 May aims to help lay the basis for just that.
The steering committee is discussing a nationwide day of action to meet any austerity cuts with protests, direct action and, hopefully, walkouts.
Many attending will have taken part in factory, college and school occupations against cuts and closures. A speaker from the victorious campaign to keep Whittington Hospital’s A&E department open will discuss the lessons of that struggle.
From Glasgow a group of young, temporary workers in supermarkets will outline how they are trying to unionise the workforce. And a Greek civil servant will report direct from the frontline.
The conference is generating widespread support.
The NUT teachers’ union voted to back it at their annual conference, as did both the further education and higher education committees of the UCU lecturers’ union. The London region of the RMT union has also backed the conference.
Last week I addressed sacked Jarvis workers demonstrating outside Network Rail HQ and students and lecturers protesting outside Conel college in north London.
One of the Jarvis RMT reps, Bill Rawcliffe, will now be speaking at the conference.
This week Clydeside Right to Work supporters will address a Bectu union branch and hold a meeting with campaigners fighting a school closure.
An array of trade union bodies—including a network of trades councils stretching from Plymouth to Dundee—are sending delegates. Pensioner groups, student bodies and, thus far, one group fighting for disability rights, will also be there.
The platform speakers are impressive—but we hope the workshops will be places where concrete proposals for action can be discussed and then proposed to the whole conference.
The Right to Work conference will be a vital next step in creating the networks of resistance which can ensure we don’t pay for a crisis we didn’t create.
For more information and updates go to » www.righttowork.org.uk