Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/863/21044

From The Socialist newspaper, 8 July 2015

NSSN conference 2015

"We could stop austerity in its tracks"

NSSN conference 2015 closing rally, photo Senan

NSSN conference 2015 closing rally, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Dave Gorton, Unite LE/372 branch

As the standing ovation for sacked Greek Vodafone worker, Harris Sedaris, died away, the audience at the ninth annual National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference broke into an impromptu rendition of traditional socialist song 'the Internationale'. It was a fitting end to a day full of hope and confidence - one that laid the foundations for the next few months of crucial struggle.

This was the first NSSN conference since the Tories' shock election victory and no delegate was in any doubt as to the challenges we face. But they also recognised there is no time for mourning.

Activists spoke of the necessity of moving swiftly into action and displayed a confidence that a government supported by just 24% of the population could be defeated if the unions adopted a bold, radical and fighting agenda.

The morning session - Stop the Tory Union-Busters - was addressed by five union general secretaries or presidents, as well as leading activists from the floor. The common thread between almost all speakers was that the left trade unions - those affiliated to the NSSN - have to make the running in the coming months.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of firefighters' union FBU (the NSSN's newest affiliate), said: "Imagine if the TUC leaders began to go out city by city and town by town making the case against austerity and the case for organising and then called for a general strike - then I think that could receive a huge echo."

Thanks

Civil servants union PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka paid tribute to the NSSN for being first on the scene whenever there is a dispute. The NSSN's ability to mobilise was echoed by other speakers involved in disputes. Candy Udwin, sacked PCS National Gallery activist thanked the NSSN for its consistant support.

Mick Joyce from the Kone dispute in the north east said they would have lost if they'd been left to stand alone, but thanks to the Socialist Party "we beat them". Mick recently joined the Socialist Party.

Mark was adamant "we could stop austerity in its tracks" if the TUC united against our class enemies. It was a message echoed by the bakers' union's Ronnie Draper, the RMT's Peter Pinkney and the prison officers' Steve Gillan. Ronnie went back to the tremendous Hovis dispute in 2013 that achieved victory supported by the NSSN and others.

Martin Powell-Davies, NUT national executive member, detailed the action taken this year by teachers, school students and community activists which has seen the attempts to convert five Lewisham schools to academies all fail.

Conference gave a rousing welcome to Marie and Christine from the Glasgow homelessness workers' dispute who reported on the Labour city council's attempts to organise a scab workforce to break their 15 week dispute. They brought news of the success of the Dundee hospital porters' strike, and the determination it had given them: "We're not going back until we get what we came out for."

The author of 'Blacklisted - The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists', Dave Smith, was well received by conference as he was able to give a very serious subject the attention it deserved while making everyone laugh. 18 copies of the book were sold during the day.

Tube strike

The loudest response of the morning was reserved for the RMT's Jared Wood, speaking from the floor on the London Underground strikes planned for 8 and 9 July - a historic dispute with all four tube unions involved in closing down the complete network.

There are also other strikes (for example in Bromley council and the National Gallery) being coordinated on 8 July - the day Osborne announces his latest austerity budget - showing what could be possible if the TUC grasped the historic role it should be playing.

Newly elected Unite national executive member, Suzanne Muna, asked what we would do if the TUC fails to act. She was in no doubt that the left unions needed to be bold and, if necessary, go it alone.

Next steps

This was reflected in the statement carried unanimously which called for the left unions, if the TUC refuses, to organise a mass demonstration in London on the day the Trade Union Bill is debated in parliament.

The afternoon session on fighting austerity featured some excellent reports including from Isai Priya of Tamil Solidarity, Helen Pattison of Youth Fight for Jobs and Oktay Sahbaz from the Turkish and Kurdish community organisation Day-Mer.

The NSSN has demonstrated for a number of years that it is a key component in the workers' movement. It has supporters who hold key positions in many unions and who consistently call for support for all workers' struggles and for coordinated action.

This conference saw the NSSN beginning to take the next steps - putting itself centre stage and taking the movement forward whether or not the official bodies fail to respond.


Sacked Greek worker brings solidarity

Sacked Greek Vodafone worker Harris Sideris speaking at the closing rally, photo by Senan

Sacked Greek Vodafone worker Harris Sideris speaking at the closing rally, photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Tessa Warrington

A highlight of the conference was hearing from sacked Greek worker Harris Sideris, a member of Xekinima (sister party of the Socialist Party in Greece).

He said he did not want to talk about the difficulties facing Greek workers, but rather their determination. Up until recently an employee of Vodafone, Harris was dismissed on 2 June along with fellow organiser Vicky, for their activities trying to gain union recognition for call centre staff in Athens.

The Vodafone bosses have been trying to divide workers, splitting them along the lines of permanent, contracted and outsourced staff. They imposed unattainable personal targets and placed under-25s on lower wages of a shocking 490 a month (less than 350).

In February Harris and others began signing their colleagues up to the National Union of Vodafone Workers. Despite this being deemed illegal, their success led to the setting up of workplace committees.

After being sacked on spurious grounds, public meetings of almost 200 workers voted to take strike action over the sackings, which they did twice.

The union is now in legal discussions with Vodafone, and Vicky and Harris expect to be taking their case to court in the near future.

International pressure

Harris welcomed the exposing of the Vodafone brand internationally, which has piled on the pressure back home in Greece. He made the point that the bosses are organised internationally so workers must be too, linking up struggles across Europe.

On the looming referendum (speaking the day before it took place), Harris paraphrased the famous opening of the Communist Manifesto, saying "A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of 'No'! OXI!"

He addressed the Troika, saying: "We are not just unwilling to pay back the debt, we want paying for the debt! They are not your banks, they are our banks, and we should take them back under workers' control, that is to say, we should take our lives into our own hands."

Rushing to catch his return flight to Greece in time to vote, I asked Harris what he would say to UK workers soon to be facing an EU referendum of their own. He said that the EU represents the internationalism of the bosses, of capitalism. It is no friend to European workers.

But the campaign for a 'no' vote must be drawn along clearly socialist lines, of opposition to austerity and control of the rich, for true internationalism of the European working class.

Otherwise the debate is open to those on the right, like Ukip, whose only basis for leaving the EU is the financial gain of their own rich chums, while sowing division and racism between workers in Britain.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 8 July 2015:


International socialist news and analysis

Greece: Mighty class-based 'NO' shakes bosses' EU


Socialist Party news and analysis

Cuts for us, handouts for rich

Terrorism and classroom spying

Janner case: more establishment child abuse cover-ups

Stop hammering low-paid - 10 an hour now!

ESA under the cosh

Low-income tenants face rent hikes

Them & Us


Socialist Party features

NSSN conference 2015: "We could stop austerity in its tracks"

Migrants flee horrors created by capitalism


Socialist Party workplace news

Hospital porters mop up in NHS pay battle triumph

Tube union: why we're striking

Britain's biggest union could reconsider funding Labour after leadership elections

Education under attack! Reports from the front line of the fightback

Yorkshire firefighters demonstrate against crew cuts

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party campaigns

Socialist Party LGBT group plans fightback against attacks and austerity

Bitter fight to save Bitterne walk-in centre continues

Scotland and North-West England hold TUSC conferences


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Why I joined: 'the Socialist Party has given me political confidence'

TV review: Picasso - Portillo's peculiar perspective


 

Home   |   The Socialist 8 July 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

NSSN:

triangleOrganising to fight for workplace safety

triangleNSSN: Workers' safety before profit!

triangleWorkers fighting to defend safety and livelihoods - NSSN national meeting a huge success

triangleNSSN: Workers fighting for safety during Covid-19

trianglePacked meeting of workplace militants, strikers, socialists and trade union leaders

Workers:

triangleCouncil finance disaster: set emergency no-cuts budgets and fight for funds!

triangleProtect every job, nationalise don't subsidise

triangleCoordinated union struggle needed to save jobs and nationalise JCB

triangleFurlough: We are not 'all in the same boat'

Union:

trianglePCS pay claim: Vital work unrecognised

triangleEquity union general secretary election

triangleReject the university employers' offer on pay, workload and casualisation

Unions:

triangleCovid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

Austerity:

triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

TUC:

triangleUnion independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

Strike:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

Socialist Party:

triangleKen Douglas

EU:

triangleBattered Tories face divisions and growing anger

Unite:

triangleFight continues for safety on London buses

RMT:

triangleFight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

National Gallery:

triangleNational Gallery reps endorse Chris Baugh

PCS:

triangleUnsafe Workplace? "It's up to you" PCS tells reps and members

Students:

triangleSchools... no going back until it's safe

Tamil Solidarity:

triangleBuilding a working-class movement for Tamil rights

Suzanne Muna:

triangleHousing cuts cost lives

Shop Stewards:

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network conference

Pay:

triangleMore blunders and profiteering in Tory track-and-trace scheme

Prison officers:

triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

Youth Fight for Jobs:

triangleJarrow March: an inspiring show of solidarity between workers and youth

Xekinima:

triangleObituary: Ged Travers 1957-2018

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleWaltham Forest trade unions discuss the fight for PPE and workplace safety

Working class:

triangleLessons from the Corbyn experience

Trade unions:

triangleStay alert to bosses putting profit before safety

Tories:

triangle"Test, trace, isolate, support" - the Tories' scheme fails on all counts

Trade union:

triangleWest Midlands trade union activists discuss the battle for safety on the front line

Teachers:

triangleSchools: union oversight needed to end chaos in provision under coronavirus

Firefighters:

triangleSurrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

General strike:

triangleIndia: Bloody pogrom fuelled by Modi's sectarianism

FBU:

triangleCoronavirus news in brief

Dundee:

triangleDundee: young workers meet

Academies:

triangleAnti-academy strikes growing

Glasgow:

triangleMassive Scottish independence demo marks new stage in struggle

Hovis:

triangleBelfast Hovis workers' all-out strike

Martin Powell-Davies:

triangleTories knocked back on schools opening

Matt Wrack:

triangleGrenfell watch: Unions challenge 'mockery of justice'

Mark Serwotka:

triangleAn exchange with Mark Serwotka about sales of the Socialist

London underground:

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

Lewisham:

triangleISS workers' pay victory

NUT:

triangleMoney doesn't make up for cuts - education unions must organise for funding and against Tory attacks

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

5/6/20

Obituary

Ken Douglas

4/6/20

Black Lives Matter

3rd June anti-racist demonstrations across Britain

3/6/20

Equity

Equity union general secretary election

3/6/20

Socialist

Pandemic doesn't stop Socialist Party educating organisers: northern meeting

3/6/20

Labour Party

Blairite general secretary elected - Starmer's takeover of Labour Party consolidated

3/6/20

Racism

Fight racism and class inequality, fight capitalism!

3/6/20

Covid

Hospital closed following rampant spread of Covid-19

3/6/20

JCB

Coordinated union struggle needed to save jobs and nationalise JCB

3/6/20

PCS

PCS pay claim: Vital work unrecognised

3/6/20

Schools

Schools... no going back until it's safe

3/6/20

UCU

Reject the university employers' offer on pay, workload and casualisation

3/6/20

Buses

Fight continues for safety on London buses

27/5/20

Fighting Fund

We need readers' support to fight capitalist crisis

27/5/20

Ferries

Fight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

27/5/20

Schools

Schools aren't safe

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999