"OUR TIME has come." That was how NUJ union president Dave Toomer summed up the launch of the Socialist Alliance at the union's annual conference. He was speaking at an electric fringe meeting attended by around a quarter of the 100 plus delegates.
He was joined by strikers from the Dudley hospitals and the Hull caravans dispute, and Oxford Socialist Alliance prospective parliamentary candidate John Lister. Dave had earlier used the same words to describe the rebirth of the union inside workplaces across the country as journalists voted by huge majorities for the NUJ to represent them.
Hatred of New Labour and the inspiration of the anti-capitalist protests coloured the conference. Delegates criticised PFI, at home, and supported the Genoa demo at the G8 summit in July.
But there was frustration and disappointment at delays to recognition agreements and wasted opportunities for a real fight over pay and conditions. The conference really came alive when a delegate from the Express newspapers voiced the enormous anger over 150 job losses. But no strategy for a real fight came from the leadership.
The widespread attraction of the Socialist Alliance was clearly evident, with pledges and collections for the election campaign. Even after a motion supporting the Alliance was ruled out of order, delegates were urged to come back next year with a rule change to allow it to be debated.
- PHIL TURNER, NUJ union conference delegate