Socialist Worker

Organising resistance at the People's Convention

by Viv Smith
Issue No. 2238

The Blacklist Support Group is one of the many that will be hosting a workshop at the People’s Convention this Saturday 12 February in London.

The convention, initiated by the Right to Work Campaign, will bring together campaign groups, trade unions, students and others to plan action and organise against the cuts. Workshops will be hosted by different campaign groups and will initiate action.

Dave Smith, a spokesperson for the campaign, told Socialist Worker, “The government wants to reduce employment rights. Within weeks of various statements being made the government introduced consultation white papers on it.

“The bosses’ CBI organisation have been pushing this agenda and both they and the government are talking about the need for flexible working—we know that means tougher working conditions and more and more pressure piled on workers.

“The likes of Boris Johnson are talking about restricting the ability of trade unions to organise industrial action.

“We want to mobilise against the cuts, but we have to recognise that employers are organising to make sure they can implement them. That’s why we are coming to the Convention—to talk with others and plan how we can fight back and organise.”

Organise

The support group is an informal network for trade unionists that have been blacklisted by employers for their trade union activity, often for raising health and safety concerns, particularly in the construction industry.

“The only way people can defend themselves at work is via their trade unions,” Dave added. “Collectively we can act and work together as a counterbalance to all of the power employers have.

“We work a lot within the construction industry. The cuts will mean work is less safe than ever before—because they are not just about job losses but cutting corners on health and safety and conditions.

“We focus on the construction industry because it is this group of workers who have come under such attack. But it is taking place in other industries too. Last year Penny Gower, a health and safety rep in a school in Scotland, was blacklisted. She won her case, but it showed the lengths to which employers will go when they feel under attack.

“But by far the worst offenders when it comes to targeting trade unionists are the big companies, the multinationals. They go to extreme lengths to compile lists of workers in unions, working with security services to do it.

“Sometimes employers use propaganda against the unions to divide workers and stop some from joining. Sometimes they buy people off and sometimes they use the most vicious dismissals so that people who stand up and fight for our rights can’t get another job.

“People join a trade union because they think it makes a difference—and it does. If employers are vindictive about workers joining unions and dismissing people then it is absolute necessity that trade unions exist and have as big a membership as possible in order to defend their reps and members.

“Our campaign is about justice for those who have been blacklisted, but we aren’t martyrs—we believe that by collective action we can improve our conditions and more importantly we can change our society. That’s worth fighting for.”

The People’s Convention is on Saturday 12 February at Friends Meeting House, Euston Road (opposite Euston station), central London. To register and for details of the workshops and speakers go to www.righttowork.org.uk

Go to the Blacklist Support Group on Facebook for updates and links to their video Blacklisted


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Tue 8 Feb 2011, 17:25 GMT
Issue No. 2238
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