23 January 2015
Building solidarity, resisting austerity: the year ahead
Following our very successful conference in November, the Unite the Resistance Steering Committee met in early January. It mapped out the way forward for UtR to be able to continue to develop networks of resistance within the unions and across them.
Over 600 people attended the conference representing many of the campaigns that are taking place across Britain.
These ranged from the successful New Era Estate campaigners, Lambeth College Strikers, Defence Support Group, Disabled activists speaking about their victorious campaign against ATOS, representatives from the Bakers’ union (BFAWU) speaking about their experience of successfully beating back employers attempts to introduce casualised labour and the inspiring story of British Sign Language Interpreters of how they are unionising their sector (see link here
The highlight of the conference was hearing workers from the fast food campaign from the US. Watch inspiring videos from the conference, including the US fast food workers here
With the general election approaching fast we have a lot to do to ensure that the privileged elite that dominate the Tory-led coalition are driven from office.
UtR was set up in 2011 during the beginning of the pension’s dispute. It was set up to try and help coordinate strike action and to build solidarity for those unions that were taking action in defence of their member’s pensions. Since then we have had some success in building these networks.
Thousands of pounds have been raised for a number of local and national disputes by activists in their workplaces; the successful Lambeth College
and St Mungo’s Broadway strikes have both received financial support from the solidarity networks that have been developed. Cards and petitions have been collected and taken to striking firefighters’ and nurses’ picket lines to help boost their campaign by showing that the public are behind their campaigns to protect our services.
Unfortunately the period of nationally coordinated strike action was short lived as most unions retreated from attempting to organise nationally coordinated action. A combination of the fear of being seen to spoil Labour’s chances in the coming general election and a pessimism about the willingness of their members to fight on a national level has meant that most unions are not organising national strike action to resist the Tory led coalition’s vicious attacks on working people.
Unions are popular. Working people understand the need to have someone that stands between them and a bullying manager. This is why the attempt by the Tories to portray unions as the ‘enemy within’ by campaigning on introducing a 40 percent threshold is so wide of the mark (see Guardian letter here
The general election and beyond.
UtR have produced a set of ten demands that we will be campaigning around in the general election (see link here
). We will be holding meetings around the country to promote our demands. We will be inviting MPs, local trade unionists, benefit, housing and disability activists to come along to show their support for our demands as well as outline their campaigns. These meetings will provide a focus for any local campaign that needs solidarity.
Immigration will be a key political issue in the general election. All the mainstream political parties will be attempting to scapegoat migrant workers for the economic crisis.
We call upon all our supporters to help organise meetings in solidarity with migrant workers through their trade unions or community campaign groups – like the one that has been organised by the London region UCU on 26 February (see here
). The main anti-racist focus will be the national Stand up to Racism demo on the 21 March and we encourage all our supporters to look out for local transportation and help fill the coaches.
Alongside these activities we will continue to build solidarity with local and national disputes like the London wide bus workers’ strike and the Barnsley College dispute. The national NHS strike on the 29 January
will be an important day of action. We will be organising collections and delegations from workplaces across Britain to visit their local hospital picket lines with messages of support.
We look forward to seeing you in 2015.
Sean Vernell, Joint UtR National Secretary
Jane Aitchison, Joint UtR National Secretary