6 June 2013
Over 100 trade unionists, benefit justice campaigners and disabled activists met on Wednesday night at the West Midlands Unite the Resistance conference in Birmingham. There were important delegations of NUT, PCS, UCU, UNISON and BFAWU members.
The event Coincided with the regional strike day of thousands of PCS members in the DWP and HMRC and this was a perfect backdrop to the evenings discussions.
The event was opened by Liz Lawrence, vice chair of the lecturers union UCU. She described the brutality of the ConDem attacks on our services and in particular on welfare recipients. She pointed to the need to get back to serious coordinated action by the unions.
The workshop run by Birmingham Benefit Justice campaign and DPAC was packed as activists discussed how to build the campaign against the bedroom tax, and how to make sure the regional demonstration on Saturday 15th June is as big as possible.
The workshop on defending the NHS was introduced by Diana Smith, one of the organisers of the 30,000 strong demonstration to defend Stafford Hospital.
The workshop on organising in the workplace brought together trade unionists who are building strong union organisation and organising resistance to both government and local management attacks.
The final session was introduced by Ian Hodson, BFAWU president, who made a barnstorming speech both attacking the brutality of government policy, particularly the Workfare programme, and calling for the TUC to call the General Strike that it is considering.
Speakers in the discussion included a contribution stressing the need to resist the divisive racism by promoted both by the government and the EDL. Another contributor from DPAC discussed furthering the cooperation between disabled activists and union activists.
A Solidarity Call session heard from PCS members who had struck, UCU members and NUT members who are resisting management attacks.
Other platform speakers included Will Duckworth, deputy leader of the Green Party; Josh Jones, the only councillor to refuse to vote for the Birmingham Council budget cuts; Doug Morgan from Birmingham NUT.
The conference elected a steering committee of union, welfare and disabled activists with the aim of creating a network of solidarity for anyone in dispute and helping build and unite the resistance across the West Midlands.