Monday, 1 July 2013

NSSN Conference builds for a 24-hour General Strike

On Saturday, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference brought together over 400 trade union reps to debate about how to rebuild the co-ordinated strike action needed to stop this Government’s attacks and, in particular, to discuss how to make the demand for a 24-hour general strike a reality.

The key points of the action plan agreed at the Conference were:

  • To hold a NSSN rally near the TUC congress in Bournemouth on 8th September followed by a lobby of congress, to call for a 24-hour general strike.
  • In the run-up to the congress, NSSN supporters were encouraged to pass motions in support of a 24-hour general strike in their shop stewards committees, union branches, anti-cuts groups and trades councils.
  • Each region of the NSSN was encouraged to hold regional meetings to build for the lobby of the TUC and popularise the call for a general strike.
  • To energetically build the TUC demonstration to defend the NHS taking place outside the Tory Party conference in Manchester on 29th September and organise a NSSN contingent on it which will march behind a banner calling for a 24-hour general strike.
I had the opportunity to report on the success of the strike action by NUT and NASUWT members across 22 local authorities in the North-West on 27th June. I explained that, while there had been some good local coverage, the strike had been largely ignored by the national media – but a national strike would not be so easy for the media to silence. 

I explained that teachers would be striking together again  in the Autumn but appealed to other trade unions to co-ordinate their action with ours - "we need to be out together to win". 

Reps queue to make their contribution to discussion
Platform speakers included Tommy Sheridan from the Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax campaign, Steve Gillan, general secretary of the POA, and CWU general secretary Billy Hayes. Billy informed conference that 96% of his union's members had voted to oppose privatisation of Royal Mail. There was also a wide range of speakers fresh from local industrial disputes or community campaigns.

Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS reviewed the course of industrial struggle since 30th November 2011. Commenting on the decision of the GMB and Unison to settle the pensions dispute he said it was, at best, a terrible tactical decision or at worst a deliberate attempt to knock the stuffing out of the 30th November action. To big applause he declared that all unions taking action should get in a room together and begin planning a coordinated response to austerity. 

Speaking in the workshop on Turkey
The closing plenary had a teacher speaking from France, on behalf of the SUD trade union federation as well Oktay Sahbaz from the Turkish and Kurdish group Day-Mer. I was also pleased to see that the workshop that I chaired on events in Turkey was the most popular choice for delegates. Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of the RMT and I were able to report on our trade union delegation to Istanbul and plans were made to set-up a solidarity campaign to support the ongoing struggles.

For a longer report, visit

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