15 April 2013
Just over 170 people attended the North West Unite the Resistance Conference with delegates from across the region. Community groups and union delegations filled the main hall at Manchester Mechanics Institute.
The Conference was opened by an ex miner, Steve Hammill who made it clear that Thatcher was no National hero but a vicious representative of the ruling class who supported Apartheid, General Pinochet in Chile and who systematically took on the unions. Steve said that Thatcher may be dead but now we have to to smash the neoliberal agenda of individualism and greed which she spawned. Our task is to get organised and plan our strategy to keep Thatcher turning in her grave.
Ronnie Draper from the Bakers ‘Union spoke about the importance of a General Strike against Austerity because whatever the colour of the Government they would continue to make us pay for the greed of our banks and finance capitalists.
While we have to aim for the big action we can still win smaller victories at workplace level. Dave Owens from the PCS spoke about these struggles in the DWP and in the Call Centre on Merseyside. Management are very fragile and action can win real gains. Nationally the PCS is taking action to defend jobs and pay and his members were proud to be able to announce on picket lines that Thatcher was dead. Finally, he talked about the importance of uniting benefit claimants and workers. He hoped workers would take action on the day they introduce Universal Credit.
What followed was an excellent discussion from activists fighting against pay and job cuts, bedroom tax activists and refugee campaigners all stressing the need to Unite the Resistance to bring down this Government and stop the policies of Austerity.
Workshops then took place on: A Million Climate jobs; Protest, Solidarity and the Law; Organising at Work against the Cuts; Defend our Services and How to Axe the Bedroom Tax. Practical suggestions that arose were then fed back into the final session.
The final session with Alfie Meadows, Alan Gibbons and Jane Aitchison was the most inspiring which included a special contribution from Anti Cuts Rebel Councillor Kevin Bennett. Jane summed up the feelings on the day by reminding us that it was not death or an election that got rid of Thatcher but our victorious struggle against the Poll Tax. We should learn the lesson of this and should use the battle over the Bedroom Tax and our organised industrial action to bring down this deeply unpopular and fragile Con Dem Government.
Finally, we agreed to launch an open letter to say why we would be marching on Tory Party Conference when it meets in Manchester in September. We aim to mobile tens of thousands from every workplace and estate across the North West.