TUC needs to make sure we’re “All Out Together in November” !
It was a real privilege for me to be the opening speaker today at a rally addressed by leading members of some of the most determined trade unions in Britain.
Bob Crow, RMT, addresses the rally
The rally, organised by the National Shop Stewards Network, was held to bring together trade unionists who want to see this week’s Trade Union Congress build for mass co-ordinated trade union action and for a 24-hour General Strike to oppose the Coalition’s attacks.
It was a vibrant meeting with speakers like Bob Crow of the RMT, Janice Godrich of PCS, Steve Gillan of the POA, Ian Lawrence of NAPO and Ronnie Draper of the BFAWU making fighting speeches that had the hall echoing with applause.
I was able to confirm the dates of the regional action being taken by the NUT and NASUWT in October and our plans for a further one-day national strike across the whole of England and Wales before the end of term.
That confirmed plan of action was clearly a real encouragement to other trade unionists looking to co-ordinate action with us. Those trade unionists will also want to join our rallies in October and build public support for teachers’ action.
I explained how the Government has pushed ahead with privatising our schools and making it harder for our youngsters to get the exam grades they’ve worked for. They have also pushed ahead with their attacks on teachers’ pensions, pay and conditions.
Faced with these attacks, teachers have no choice but to take action. But is it any different for any other group of workers? ‘Unity is strength’ and we need to take action together!
However, I warned, there will be voices at the TUC that will argue that the call for general strike action has been and gone, that unions now just need to look ahead to the next general election.
NSSN Rally at TUC 2013, Bournemouth
But how much more damage will have been inflicted by this Government between now and then, and who can seriously expect the next Government to willingly reverse any of these attacks, whoever is elected?
I’m glad to report that in the TUC debate that followed, I understand that the RMT’s Motion 54 was overwhelmingly carried (and with the backing of the NUT). It included the statement that “Congress believes it is incumbent upon us to do all within our power to fight back and believes that the consideration of the practicalities of a general strike should remain”.
It went on to state that “A mid-week day of action and protest, coupled with the General Council assisting in coordinating any strike action on that day, would have a significant and different impact to those called on a Saturday. Congress agrees to hold what could be the first of a series of mid-week days of action involving communities throughout the country and for the General Council to urgently consult affiliates on the timing of such a day of action”.
The NUT and NASUWT have already pencilled in a date for national action in November. So let’s make it a day of coordinated national strike action that can start to push this government back at last !