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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 June 2016

GMB backs no-cuts budgets and steel nationalisation

Taste for socialism at union's 2016 conference

GMB flags at the TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Claire Job

GMB flags at the TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Claire Job   (Click to enlarge)

Charlie Taylor, GMB conference delegate (personal capacity)

General union GMB's 2016 conference in Bournemouth reflected the changed situation sweeping Britain and the globe: the resurgence of socialist ideas - at least in words. Conference passed key motions on no-cuts budgets and steel, but unfortunately backed Trident renewal and the EU Remain campaign.

Socialist Party delegates decided to count how many times the word socialism was mentioned. By the third day we had lost count. Members have had enough of austerity, and are looking for an alternative.


A landmark motion moved by a Socialist Party member passed calling for Labour councils to set legal no-cuts budgets. Such budgets spend their reserves and use prudential borrowing measures to stop austerity now, while building a union-led industrial campaign to win the money back from the Tory government.

The union's ruling central executive council, while supporting the motion, raised qualifications in an effort to undermine it.

One was the idea that councils pooling reserves to help finance no-cuts budgets would lead to combining services, and ultimately job cuts. But cutting councils already combine services to shed jobs. It goes without saying that a 'no-cuts budget' would not make job cuts: the clue is in the name.

The second qualification was that some councils already spend from reserves, which are meant for emergencies like flooding, and cannot do so indefinitely. But the death of council jobs and services is an emergency. In any case, reserve spending is a temporary measure - the strategy aims at winning the money back.

Jeremy Corbyn addressed conference's opening day. He said a Labour government under his leadership would repeal the Tories' Trade Union Act. Tim Roache, the GMB's new general secretary, said the union was fully behind Corbyn. He demanded an end to the Labour right's attacks on him.

Several motions passed called for public ownership, including the railways. In the manufacturing section conference, one delegate said we should "not be afraid to use the N-word" - nationalisation.

A motion passed on steel called for an emergency meeting of shop stewards across the industry to organise a joint conference and mass campaign. Tata must open up accounts for inspection by workers. Steel must be nationalised, and all job losses stopped.


On the EU referendum, the union's leadership took a Remain position a while back and reiterated this throughout. The leadership said it was for an 'angry Remain'. There is no 'angry Remain' on the ballot paper.

There was no real debate on the issue. A statement by the executive supporting Remain passed almost unanimously.

GMB also recommitted to supporting renewal of Trident. Leaders said thousands of members' jobs were at risk if not. But Trident workers could be redeployed - at first decommissioning nuclear weapons, then transferred to socially useful work such as wind energy.

Socialist Party members held a successful fringe meeting that saw new people attend. The hard work starts now in campaigning for key policies, like no-cuts budgets and steel nationalisation, to be implemented.

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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.
  • 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.
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In The Socialist 15 June 2016:

EU referendum

EU referendum: whatever the result, political turmoil is ahead

EU: busting the myths that Remain is best for the 99%

TUSC anti-EU tour touches down in Wales

BT Brexit baloney

Letters: EU referendum

International socialist news and analysis

Orlando massacre: working class unity to defeat homophobia, terrorism and racism

France: workers' revolt against labour law grows

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Hilarious, innovative satire on state bureaucracy

Workplace news and analysis

Unison conference 2016: fighting leadership needed more than ever

GMB backs no-cuts budgets and steel nationalisation

Pennine Foods strike forces bosses back to the table

Hospital porters and domestic staff claim jobs and pay victory

Strike at Argos depot against contracting out of jobs

Buses parked three deep in Leeds strike

School support staff mobilise against slashing of pay

Uber drivers strike against unfair fares

Lorry stoppage paves the way to victory

Solidarity with victimised bakers' union rep

Housing crisis

Action to defeat the Housing Act: we won't move!

Housing Act: landlords and developers set to profit

Generation rent demands affordable housing


Re-open Chorley A&E - end the staff shortages

Hands Off HRI campaign grows from strength to strength

Socialist Party news and analysis

Systemic failures hurt kids in justice system

Them & Us

Socialist Party fundraising: punching above our weight


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