Socialist Worker

Activists gather in London to discuss building resistance to the Tories

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2487

Activists hold up placards demanding the reinstatement of victimised rep Simon OHara

Activists hold up placards demanding the reinstatement of victimised rep Simon O'Hara (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Around 100 people met to discuss building the fightback against the Tories in central London, today, Saturday.

Unite the Resistance organised the meeting.

Yannis Gourtsoyannis sits on the British Medical Association's (BMA) junior doctors committee. He told the meeting, "We struck for the first time in 40 years and we had overwhelming public support.

"We're also a new mass movement from the grassroots."

But the BMA has suspended a 48-hour walkout that had been planned to begin on Tuesday of next week

Yannis said, "The government is on the back foot and some concessions are being made."The message is - strikes work."

Junior doctors are still building for a full walkout on Wednesday 10 February.

Yannis said that action is still "firmly in place" without serious movement from the government. Health students fighting to save their bursaries are planning a solidarity walkout on the day.

Junior doctors are fighting Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt's plans to impose new contracts. He wants to smash pay and terms and conditions to soften the NHS up for privatisation.

Danielle Tiplady, one the leading bursary campaigners, said, "The NHS is being set up to fail so they can sell it off piece by piece.

"We're going to walk out and withdraw our labour - this is not a lunch break."

Activists used the meeting to link their fights together.

Jenny is a photography student at London Metropolitan University's Cass art school in east London. University bosses want to sell off the City Campus in east London and merge it with the north London campus, which would see courses closed and jobs cut. 

She told Socialist Worker, "More students should come to meetings like this. You learn about things that don't automatically seem relevant to you. But we're all fighting the same sort of attacks."

The momentum behind the bursary campaign is growing after a 5,000-strong march earlier this month. Their walkout is part of a week of action that coincides with the TUC's "heart unions" week of action against the Trade Union Bill from 8 to 14 February.

Matt Wrack, leader of the FBU firefighters' union, spoke about how to beat the bill. "There were some in the TUC who said that our audience was Tory MPs," he said. "But our audience is the 6.5 million trade union members.

"Those Tory MPs will listen to us on the basis of strength, not pleading to their better nature."

People from the floor argued to be sober about were the trade union movement is - but that there's also a massive potential for a fightback.

Wrack said, "We've defeated trade union legislation before in the 1970s. We're not there now, but you rebuild the movement on the basis of struggle."

Paula Peters from Disabled People Against the Cuts (Dpac) called from the floor on people to support the group's planned action on 4 March against "job advisors" being placed in GP surgeries.

People took solidarity photos for suspended NUT and RMT union reps Simon O'Hara and Glen Hart, and imprisoned Egyptian doctor Taher Mokhtar.

Other junior doctors, health workers and campaigners said the junior doctors' picket lines had boosted everyone's confidence.

Glen Hart spoke from the floor. "If we did follow through on strikes, imagine what would happen," he said.

Other speakers included Bfawu bakers' union president Ian Hodson, UCU union executive member Mandy Brown and Michael Bradley from Unite the Resistance.

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