The massacre of thousands of jobs this week shows the central importance of the Right to Work conference on 30 January in Manchester.
It will be a conference of resistance and solidarity, and it is winning wide support.
At its centre will be the determination to organise a fightback rather than meekly to surrender when bosses and the government demand sacrifice.
Members of the PCS civil service workers’ union are coming to the conference, which will meet one week before they start a national strike ballot over attacks on redundancy terms that will clear the way for mass job losses and privatisation.
Steve Gibbs, branch officer for the Portsdown Vectis section of the PCS, says, “I have signed up to the Right to Work conference to share the experiences of my involvement in the campaign to save the Vestas factory last year.
“On the Isle of Wight we have recently lost 600 jobs at Vestas, hundreds at BAE Systems and 200 job cuts in the council.
“My branch has sponsored me to attend this conference. Just last week Revenue and Customs announced the loss of 27 jobs at the island’s tax office.
“This is part of its plans to close 130 offices across the country with the loss of over 3,000 jobs. It’s really important that we fight every job cut.”
Andy Stafford, a UCU lecturers’ union rep at Leeds University, where there is a ballot for strike action against cuts, says, “We had a union meeting of 250 people last week that unanimously passed a motion backing the Right to Work conference.”
The conference isn’t just for workers in the organised trade union movement. Aysha Ahmed, a student at Huddersfield University, is organising a minibus to take students to the conference.
“We know that when we finish university we’ll need to get jobs, but at the moment it doesn’t look like there will be any to go to,” she told Socialist Worker. “And job cuts are affecting students now.
“People are also losing their jobs in colleges and universities – which means courses will be closed and students will get a worse education.
“I’ve been talking to students and explaining why they should come to the conference.
“I think it’s a good chance for people to get more knowledge about what’s going on. When I tell people about the workshops they get really interested – we’ve got around 25 people who are interested in coming so far.”
Support for the conference also came last week from the Refugee Workers Cultural Association in north London.
Ibrahim Avcil, the chair of the association, told Socialist Worker, “We are pleased to support this initiative.
“The right to work is perhaps the most forgotten of all human rights, but it is a very basic necessity for all.
“At a time of economic crisis, capital seeks to divide workers by encouraging the scapegoating of migrant workers to distract from the real problems in society.
“We see this conference as an excellent chance to build unity.”
To register for the conference go to » www.righttowork.org.uk
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