How strikes can win
Over 70 people came to the workshop on how strikes can win and how we can deal with the anti-union laws.
Paul Brandon, a Unite rep at Holloway bus garage, London, expressed the mood of many when he said, “The court decision to ban the BA strike took us to the brink.
“The judges made a pragmatic political decision to then allow it to go ahead—it wasn’t based on legal argument.”
Delegates from a wide range of unions, including the NUJ, Unite, UCU, Unison and the RMT, discussed how a tipping point could be reached.
Paul Jackson, secretary of the RMT London Underground engineering branch, spoke about how workers there had built up strong union organisation that has helped them successfully fight for better pay and conditions.
Immigration: myths and truths
Clara Osagiede, from the RMT union’s cleaners’ campaign, addressed this workshop.
She said that migrant workers should not be not used as scapegoats.
There were 17 contributions from the floor, including from a cleaner originally from South Africa and a refugee from Zimbabwe.
He found it strange that while many migrants are homeless and destitute they are still attacked for taking benefits, while many have skills they are not permitted to use.
The workshop called for Right to Work campaigns to ensure that migrant workers are included in them.
Organising a campaign
Shirley Franklin spoke about the successful campaign to stop the closure of the A&E department at Whittington Hospital in north London.
She stressed the importance of a 5,000-strong march and building networks of activists to the campaign.
Campaigners are keeping the coalition together to fight further cuts—like those to mental health services at the hospital.
Many spoke about the need to replicate the success of this campaign and the importance of establishing Right to Work groups in local areas.
Pensioners, council housing campaigners and activists from the London Autistic Rights Movement also spoke.
The workshop supported the call from postal worker Pete Firmin for trade unions and communities to get involved in the campaign to stop the privatisation of Royal Mail.
It also backed the save the Hinchingbrooke Hospital demonstration on Saturday 10 July in Huntingdon.
Resisting cuts to our education
Jane Bassett, a teacher from London, introduced the workshop together with Ali Alizadeh from Middlesex university, Simon Englert from Sussex university and Sean Vernell from the UCU union national executive.
More than 70 people attended the worskhop.
The level of struggle in education is on the rise with the boycott of the SATs tests, strikes and student occupations taking place.
The workshop resolved to pledge support for students and lecturers taking part in direct action.
It pledged to back the Education Activist Network conference in October and a demonstration on Thursday 4 June for the suspended staff and students from the Save Middlesex Philosophy campaign.
Organising temporary and agency workers
A shop worker from Glasgow spoke to this 50-strong workshop:
“Union organisation in supermarkets is low. One difficulty is no one knows who the reps are.
“We decided to produce a newsletter called Shopworker, which we hope to be out in a few weeks time.
“The main problems we want to address are the divisions caused by sexism where the women are on the tills and the men filling shelves. Other issues are low wages and unpaid overtime.”
A broad debate saw trade unionists discuss the need for organising these kind of workers, and putting forward a number of initiatives.
Fighting for one million green jobs
Suzanne Jeffrey of the Campaign Against Climate Change said that politicians said a lot about public service cuts during the election campaign but emission cuts didn’t get a look in.
Nancy Lindisfarne spoke about the conference on climate change recently held in Bolivia, attended by 35,000 people.
She said, “The movement is now operating from the bottom up. This conference was coming from a very radical place.”
From the floor, Martin said, “It will only be the action of workers that will help reduce emissions.
“That is why the call for climate jobs is vital and must be taken to the trade unions.
“We urgently need jobs that will renovate our buildings and improve public transport.”