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TUSC meeting at POA conference
35 delegates attended TUSC's excellent fringe meeting at this year's Prison Officers' Association union conference in Southport, not long after New Labour's shadow prisons minister received some sharp words from POA general secretary Steve Gillan for failing to address the key issues of union rights, retirement age and reversing privatisation.
Speakers from the POA and TUSC emphasised the need for "a left-wing alternative for working people", as POA and meeting chair PJ McPartlin said. Tony Mulhearn, speaking on behalf of Merseyside TUSC, outlined the austerity that is hammering wages, contracts and public services, with Labour complicit, leaving the working-class effectively disenfranchised.
With this year's huge electoral challenge by TUSC, said Tony, if we hold our nerve and have some vision about what is possible then we can build the outline of a new mass force. POA assistant general secretary Joe Simpson declared: "I'm standing for TUSC because I'm sick and tired of the thieving rob-dogs running this country. We're being robbed and yet the trade unions are still filling the coffers of a Labour Party that has done nothing to defend us. We need an alternative because Labour has totally forgotten about working class people". Brian Caton, former POA general secretary and the meeting convenor, called on POA members and branches to get involved with TUSC, and to sponsor TUSC candidates especially in key areas where we could make a major impact.
Closing the meeting, PJ McPartlin pointed out that the title of the meeting was "Politics and the POA" and that the two are inseperable. With several POA members like Brian and Joe standing as TUSC candidates this year, support for TUSC will continue to grow in the union.