Socialist Worker

NUT conference: Solidarity and international

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2249

Delegates showed solidarity with people fighting back in Britain and around the world.

At a Campaign Teacher fringe meeting, Keith Gibson from the GMB union spoke about an ongoing dispute at the Saltend construction site in Hull, east Yorkshire.

More than 400 construction workers have been locked out at the site for the past month. Keith thanked the NUT in Hull for supporting the workers. “We’re saying clearly that we should have the right to go to work,” he said.

The dispute began when Vivergo, which owns the site, cancelled a contract with the contractor that employed the workers – Redhalls. Under TUPE regulations, workers should be transferred to whichever company Vivergo employs to complete work on the site – and their terms and conditions should be protected.

Vivergo is refusing to abide by TUPE regulations. “This case has enormous consequences for other workers,” Keith told delegates. “That’s why we’re appealing for solidarity from other unions.”

Well over 100 people came to the meeting and raised more than £400 for the Saltend workers. An official collection at NUT conference raised £700.

Delegates also showed solidarity with international struggles. They passed a motion condemning Israeli abuse of women and child prisoners in Palestine.

A packed meeting on Sunday evening on Revolt in the Middle East sent a clear message against Western intervention in Libya.

The Socialist Teachers Alliance and the Stop the War Coalition organised the meeting.

Bernard Regan described the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa as 'truly historic'. He pointed to the West's role in propping up dictators and said they were using the mantra of humanitarianism 'like a cloak to hide what intervention is really about'.

Mary Compton, a past NUT president, called for the NUT to reevaluate its international work. She described a 'patronising attitude' that saw solidarity as collecting money and giving 'charity' to people struggling around the world. Instead she called for NUT members to 'stand by people as they liberate themselves'.

Judith Orr, editor of Socialist Worker, described her experiences in Cairo during the revolution that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. 'The world has been changed forever by acts of millions of ordinary people,' she said. 'They have shown that the world can be different.'

Hannah, an Egyptian studying in Britain, described how revolution has transformed people. 'The Egypt I went to during the uprising was not the Egypt I knew,' she said. 'There was a steep learning curve. I was in the airport cussing Mubarak and the security guards were cussing him with me.

'That's revolution.'

She went on to argue that against Western intervention. 'Imperialism does not intervene to aid a revolutionary process,' she said. 'Our governments' hearts have not suddenly fluttered in sympathy with Libya. The best show of solidarity we can give is to overthrow our warmongering government.'

Speakers in the discussion overwhelmingly agreed. One woman said that Libyans were asking for help and that therefore the West should intervene. But most saw intervention as destroying the prospect of revolution in Libya.

One speaker said, 'We need to know our place in these struggles and not steal their revolution.'

Another said, 'Intervention in Libya robs people of the chance to liberate themselves.'

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