22 November 2012
Around 1000 people packed into the Unite the Resistance national conference on Saturday.
Against the backdrop of mass strikes in Europe on N14 and the Israeli assault on Gaza activists discussed how to take the movement forward.
The big question at the centre of the event was how to get the strike movement back to the scale of 30 November public sector mass strike and how to turn the words about a general strike from the TUC into action.
The two main sessions debated why momentum had been lost and how to get the fight back on track with leading figures in the trade union movement like Matt Wrack and Kevin Courtney alongside key activists like Jane Aichison from PCS and healthworker Gill George from Unite.
Delegates were also inspired to hear from activists at the heart of the international struggle including Amplats miner Tumi Moloi who talked about the momentous struggle of the South African miners.
The workshops were a big success providing forums to discuss strategy in a range of key areas including the fight in the NHS and in education, the attacks on welfare and equalities, how to tackle the anti-unions laws and defend the right to protest.
Several key initiatives came out of the event – Click here to read the full conference statement
Campaign for action and the general strike: To campaign to turn the general strike call into action and to campaign for action within our own sectors for national action and to push to get back to mass co-ordinated strikes.
Solidarity: To organise solidarity with every dispute/struggle and to support key initiatives such as the PCS day of action on 30 November and the UK Uncut protests on 8 December.
5th December budget statement protests: To organise and build protests on 5 December on the day that Osborne makes his budget statement.
The London Region of the UCU has initiated a protest assembling from 5.30pm at Kings College on the Strand that is gaining support from other trade union bodies.
Unite the Resistance has called for a protest from 6.30pm at Downing Street. We want to build big protests everywhere as part of building and strengthening our opposition to austerity.
Building local networks and regional events: We also agreed to encourage the development of networks of activists in every area that can work together to strengthen the fight back. This would include organising regional UTR events early in 2013.
Campaign for an alternative: To present a positive alternative to austerity including using the UTR pamphlet trade unions and the fight against austerity.
Workshop report backs here:
Solidarity, protest and the law:
Hosted by Defend the Right to Protest www.defendtherighttoprotest.org.
Introduced by Alfie Meadows victimised student, Dave Smith anti-blacklisting campaign, Carol Duggan aunt of Mark Duggan, Norman Strike striking miner 1984-5 and Brian Richardson campaigning lawyer.
Participants discussed the importance of building a united response to attacks on protest and trade union rights and the need to support other struggles against police violence and racism.
A strategy to defend the NHS:
Introduced by Wendy Savage Keep our NHS Public, Raj Gill Save our Hospitals Ealing, Cathy Taylor UNITE health branch, Bristol. Hosted by Bristol UNITE health branch
Health campaigners and health workers discussed and debated the kind of strategies we need to defend the NHS.
Fighting for equality as part of the fight against austerity:
Introduced by Maurice Shaw BARAC & PCS, Sara Bennett UNITE NEC, Ronan McNern Queer Resistance/Occupy
This workshop discussed the threat cuts presents to equalities and strategies for defending equalities as part of the fight against austerity.
Agreed action points included:
-Produce a pamphlet on equalities & austerity, focused on activities & how to mobilise around the issue
-Support UK Uncut’s day of protests on 8th December against Starbucks tax dodging which will focus on the impact of cuts on women.
-Produce guide to take initiatives around LGBT and Black history month, International women’s day and International disabled people’s day and other important dates in the workplace
-Encourage people to check their workplaces are in line with equalities legislation
-Organise day of action round equalities and cuts
Benefits, scapegoating and organising:
The meeting agreed that solidarity and unity across different groups is really important including: benefit claimants and benefit workers, disabled and non disabled people, unemployed workers and employed workers.
Action points included:
– union branches to take back model motion and petition from Right to Work
– support EDM 687 calling for the abolition of the Work Capability Assessment
– hold a minutes silence at 11am on 3rd December in remembrance of Atos victims
– support campaigns to defend the EHRC and protection of disabled workers as under the Equalities Act 2010
– highlight issue of how benefit changes are impacting on students and making their live intolerable
Our vision in education:
Introduced by Katie O’Neil Chicago teachers strike, John Holmwood Campaign for Public University, Jamie Woodcock NUS NEC.
Action points – report forthcoming