Socialist Worker

Unite the Resistance debates organising the fightback in Scotland

by Euan Mitchell
Issue No. 2471

Some 75 trade union activists joined the Unite the Resistance conference in Glasgow last Saturday.

The event addressed three key themes – defending our unions, fighting austerity and standing up to racism and scapegoating. The thread through the day was a call for unions to take more of a lead in resisting the constant attacks on our standard of living.

There were calls for resistance to Westminster attacks on welfare and trade unions. But Keith Stoddart from the People's Assembly said, with the SNP cutting college places by 140,000 this year, the resistance must also be to Holyrood.

Mark McHugh of the Bfawu union argued the TUC needed to step up the fight against the Tories’ Trade Union Bill. He called for rank and file trade unionists to take the fight to the streets and involve young people more.

The news of Jeremy Corbyn’s election was greeted with cheers early in the day.

John Davidson from the PCS union said we should be supportive of Corbyn but we can't just wait now he has been elected. We need to fight now and encourage strikes.


One speaker from the floor drew comparisons between the eagerness to support Corbyn in England to the support for independence in the lead up to the referendum in Scotland.

People want rid of the old order.

Other speakers included campaigners from the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Blacklist Support Group and Unison reps from the Glasgow homelessness caseworkers’ all-out strike.

Ade Johnson, the brother-in-law of Sheku Bayoh who died in police custody this year, spoke in the anti-racism session. He talked of his disgust at the behaviour of the police who have refused to make a public apology for Sheku’s death.

Other speakers included Margaret Woods from Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and Liam Stephenson from the Time for Inclusive Education campaign against homophobia in schools and workplaces.

The closing session was about organising the fightback. Homelessness caseworker Chris explained that his workplace wasn't full of firebrands or activists – they were just a group of workers that decided to take no more shit. Bfawu union activists also spoke.

The day underlined the anger that exists everywhere against austerity but also workers’ mood to fight. The conference ended early with a short march down to join the refugee solidarity rally in the centre of Glasgow.

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