Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 November 2015

TUCG anti-austerity meeting report

Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and supporters at a rally, photo by Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and supporters at a rally, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Neil Cafferky

Over 700 gathered at Westminster Central Hall on 21 November to attend the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group (TUCG) meeting titled: 'After the Corbyn victory, build the fight against austerity'.

The TUCG was set up by now shadow chancellor John McDonnell alongside several left unions such as the RMT, FBU, PCS, CWU, BFAWU and POA. The initiative of the TUCG in calling the meeting was significant.

In the past few months the largely inert response of the TUC towards the Tory anti-trade union bill has created a vacuum that the TUCG has stepped into, organising protests and lobbies with the assistance of organisations like the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN).

With this meeting the TUCG has taken the battle onto the political plane by organising a conference in support of Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), photo by Senan

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), photo by Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Significantly, recognising that the struggle to defend Jeremy Corbyn needs organised trade union support, Matt Wrack (general secretary of the FBU firefighters' union) and Mark Serwotka (general secretary of the PCS civil servants' union) used the event to announce the setting up of a trade union Momentum.

Anti-union bill

The opening session discussed fighting austerity. Inevitably much of the discussion focused on the threat of the Tory anti-trade union bill.

Speaking from the chair POA prison officers' union general secretary Steve Gillan reminded the audience his union defies the law every time they go on strike. CWU general secretary Dave Ward injected a note of urgency about the bill. He said all six million TUC members should be getting a letter to their homes informing them of a day of action against the anti-trade union bill.

The middle session with John McDonnell and former Greek finance minister Yiannis Varoufakis speaking attracted the most attention, clearly demonstrated when about half the meeting left straight after Varoufakis finished speaking. He was given a hero's welcome by the audience.

Varoufakis has gained a certain anti-austerity authority in the minds of many people from his initial stance towards the Troika in the early days of the first Syriza government. The fact that he presided over a catastrophic defeat for the anti-austerity platform Syriza was first elected to does not as yet seem to have dented his appeal to some, at least outside Greece.

EU referendum

While skillfully exposing the failure of austerity policies to lead the capitalist economy out of the Great Recession, he admitted that his alternative proposals to boost demand were not aimed at replacing capitalism but saving it.

Asked about the upcoming European referendum he warned the audience "You cannot escape from Europe. You must stay in and help us democratise it". Evidently, Varoufakis is asking British workers to give a vote of confidence to the anti-democratic institutions of the EU that were instrumental in crushing the aspiration of Greek workers to exit austerity earlier this year.

John McDonnell warned that George Osborne's economic policy is in chaos. British manufacturing is likely to go into recession later in the year while the deficit continues to climb higher. He reported that many local councils are now at breaking point. Rob Williams, NSSN chair, asked from the floor if Labour councils would come together to defy the cuts imposed by Tory central government.

John said he intended to call a national conference of councils to campaign against the cuts from central government. This conference would be open to campaigning organisations. This could be good step forward for the anti-cuts movement.

Council cuts

However on the question of councils refusing to implement cuts he appeared to equivocate, citing the fear that council officials could intervene if elected councillors stood up to the government.

This stance was in stark contrast to John's earlier praise of the direct action, civil disobedience campaigns of Disabled People Against Cuts or his endorsement of illegal strike action by trade unions that might fall foul of the anti-trade union bill.

If disabled people and trade unionists can defy the government what could elected councillors backed by a mass campaign and the considerable powers and assets of a local council achieve?

The final session was on building the alternative. With the recent attacks on Corbyn from the Labour right wing still fresh in the press, much of the discussion focussed on defending his leadership.

Matt Wrack labelled the most vociferous anti-Corbyn Labour MPs as 'enemies'. Alongside Mark Serwotka he called for a trade union Momentum with the aim to "organise, organise, organise."

If it recognises that the battle cannot be restricted to the channels prescribed by the Labour Party rule book, but mobilises forces of struggle inside and outside the Labour Party, a trade union-led organisation like this could play a central role in the events ahead.

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 25 November 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Back doctors' strikes

Stop the Tories' war on Syria

Autumn statement: bonanza for bosses, pain for us

Police finally own up to spies' relationships with target women

Transgender woman dies after spiteful courts pick men's prison

'Antibiotic apocalypse': profit system holds back research

Sun's racist lie about Muslim support for terror

Them & Us

Socialist Party feature

Socialist change not climate change

International socialist news and analysis

Bombing Syria won't stop Isis

Dictatorship's methods still reign in 'democratic' Chile

Myanmar: electoral defeat for the military, renewed class struggle ahead

Workplace news and analysis

Trade Union Momentum launched to organise to defend Corbyn

Lambeth library workers' wildcat strike

"I'm voting for Roger because I believe we need change in our union"

Steelworkers demand government action to Save Our Steel

Firefighters rally to defend pay and conditions

Solidarity with sacked BT worker

Protest demands reinstatement of John Vasey

Workplace news in brief

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Tory MP made me sick with tax credit cut lies

Transgender access to healthcare is worsened by cuts

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Waltham Forest march demands homes for all

Fire cuts cost lives

Save Dorothy Lucy centre


Home   |   The Socialist 25 November 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


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

triangleThe 'Lucas Plan'

triangleHull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

triangleUnited action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan

triangleTrades council debates workers' political representation


triangleEnergy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

triangleNo return to unsafe construction sites

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

triangleOrganising to fight for workplace safety


triangleNo retreats: Corbyn must stand firm against Blairites

triangleNorth Tyneside: march to save our footbridge

triangleEngaging book about Corbyn's rise doesn't provide answers on how to change Labour

Trade union:

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

triangleTories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety


triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside


triangleStarmer in full retreat over C-19 rents crisis

John McDonnell:

triangleDefend the right to strike! RMT and NSSN lobby parliament


triangleCoronavirus news in brief


triangleWales is Europe's prisoner capital: capitalist cutters' crimes to blame


trianglePosties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive


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


triangleEconomic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon


triangleUnion independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleSabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed


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


triangleNSSN: Workers' safety before profit!

Matt Wrack:

triangleGrenfell watch: Unions challenge 'mockery of justice'

Mark Serwotka:

triangleAn exchange with Mark Serwotka about sales of the Socialist

Labour Party:

triangleThe special Covid crisis of British capitalism

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network conference

Shop Stewards:

triangleSupport Clive Walder


triangleDefend the right to strike! Southampton solidarity meeting


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


triangleSouth Devon Socialist Party: End of the Corbyn era - What next for socialism?

Trade unions:

triangleStay alert to bosses putting profit before safety

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



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



Reckless, lying cheats



Coronavirus pandemic news in brief



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



United action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan



Care home workers suffer PPE shortage and job loss fears



Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality



Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety



Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19



Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism



Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces



Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside



Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts



Transport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price



Pandemic shortages caused by capitalist market - socialist planning is the alternative

triangleMore News and socialist analysis 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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


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



Alphabetical listing

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020