A forum on “How Can We Unite to Stop the Cuts” hosted by the Right to Work (RTW) campaign last Saturday saw important moves towards more effective and united work.
The forum brought together some 50 representatives from groups including the Coalition of Resistance, the People’s Charter, Labour Representation Committee, London Coalition Against Poverty, the National Shop Stewards Network, Disabled People Against the Cuts and local anti-cuts groups.
Representatives also came from three national trade unions. John McDonnell MP also attended.
In my opening remarks I said I believed we could all agree on building support for the student protests, the 26 March demonstration against cuts called by the TUC, and the week of action initiated by the Coalition of Resistance starting on 12 February.
There is a tremendous desire for unity in the fight against the cuts, and a widespread feeling that no one existing campaign can simply declare that it is the sole national campaign.
There was widespread criticism of the decision by the majority of the NSSN’s steering committee (see below) to launch its own anti-cuts federation.
Right to Work and many of the groups attending have been invited to a meeting next week convened by the Trade Union Coordinating Group. This group involves nine unions and the meeting will discuss liaison and coordination of anti-cuts work. RTW welcomes this initiative and hopes it can be extended to other unions.
Some months ago RTW announced its national conference for 12 February. This follows our conference of over 900 in Manchester last year and the demonstration of 7,000 we organised—with the support of others—at the Tory conference in Birmingham.
In the forum we raised the possibility of opening up the 12 February conference to other groups and involving a wide range of speakers and workshops. It could be a conference for everyone, not just RTW.
A lively and rich discussion followed. There’s enthusiasm on all sides for trade unions to work together with community, student and other groups, and a recognition that we can learn from each other.
The suggestion of a recall meeting after everyone has consulted their organisations was welcomed by most forum participants. Some groups have already indicated they would work together to build a united conference on 12 February. It’s work in progress, but it is also a welcome step towards unity.
To register for the 12 February conference or find out details of your group taking part, please email [email protected]