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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 October 2021

Unite union policy conference

Discussing a 'workers' politics' in response to the bosses' offensive

Unite the Union, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson

Unite the Union, photo Paul Mattsson, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Kevin Parslow, Unite union conference delegate (personal capacity)

"She's an antidote to some of the fears that are here in the conference". This was the response of one delegate to Sharon Graham's debut speech as general secretary to Unite's sixth policy conference in Liverpool. She put some flesh on the promises in her election manifesto.

Against the backdrop, acknowledged by her, that the bosses are on the offensive against the working class to make us pay for the Covid bill, Sharon announced a pushback at the workplace level.

As she spoke, Unite was involved in 33 disputes, and she vowed that Unite will be the vanguard to change what is happening to working people.

Sharon said she felt that workers' voices need to be heard. Unite will not accept what is happening to workers and she would attempt to create more power for workers.

In particular, she defended Unite's shop stewards. The union has 10% less reps than at the beginning of lockdown. If we cannot defend reps, we do not have a union, she said - "we are nothing".

Part of Sharon's manifesto involved the establishment of cross-workplace stewards' 'combines'. Some reps had questioned whether these would conflict with the union's own regional and national sector committees. However, the proposal for combines would be to bring reps together by sector or subsector for negotiating within the top ten companies in each sector.

On the slogan of a "workers' politics", she said the Tories were not going anywhere, and Labour was not stepping up to the plate, so Unite has to deal with this. "Unite pays Labour money to be in a club [or affiliation]... but there will be no more blank cheques" for MPs who do not support us. "If Labour keeps throwing grenades, we will throw grenades back - our agenda is about what workers demand from Labour." In reply to a member's question on Labour councils abolishing facility time, she said if a Labour politician attacks our members, Unite will not support or give money to Labour politicians attacking our members.

That poses the question of what Unite do at the ballot box in next May's local elections.

Socialist Party members have been arguing at conference that Unite members should consider standing as anti-cuts candidates themselves, and should also support anti-cuts candidates including the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Conference opened on 18 October, and already Socialist Party members have intervened, putting forward a fighting programme in debates on casualisation, apprenticeships and fuel poverty.

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In The Socialist 20 October 2021:


News

Fight for a socialist recovery

Tories to blame for GP crisis

Container delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

Socialist nationalisation not bailouts for the bosses


Workplace news

Unite union policy conference

University workers ballot for strike action

Unite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

Gwent valleys Stagecoach bus drivers strike for fair pay

Reinstate Gary Evans! Llanelli postal workers strike

Napo AGM 2021: Union placed on war footing

Scunthorpe scaffs strike for pay


People's budgets

People's Budgets - a socialist answer to cruel cuts

Brighton bin workers' victory in sight

Fight to defend homelessness services

Ealing People's Budget - cuts can be resisted

Northampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

Fighting the cuts at the ballot box in Liverpool


Fall of apartheid

The fall of Apartheid in South Africa


Climate change

COP26: Trade unions must fight for a socialist transition to renewables

Save the planet from capitalist climate catastrophe


International

Austria: Chancellor Kurz resigns amid allegations of corruption


Obituary

Obituary - Tony Davison: "I work for Militant, but Laing's pay my wages"


Campaigns

"Are you the socialist cabby?"

Housing crisis: Tories and Labour are not on our side

Liverpool arms fair: Hundreds of protesters defy police 'dispersal zone'

Hackney children's centres - more education cuts are devastating

Biggest protest yet to save Stratford Circus

Doncaster: Vigil condemns violence against women


Readers' opinion

I'm unemployed: For me vacancy crisis is a lie

TV review: Squid Game


 

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Related links:

Unite:

triangleWorkers and students unite and fight

triangleUnite and fight for a decent pay rise

triangle'Labour by name - Tory by policy'

triangleScunthorpe scaffs mark 100 days of strike action with protests

triangleScunny scaffs strike restarts with a bang, barricades and a win!

Workers:

triangleFor workers' unity against war in Ukraine

triangleCanada: Prime Minister Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to end 'Freedom Convoy'

triangleThe Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party

triangleBrighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back

Union:

triangleJust Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

triangleTrade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleUsdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

Labour:

trianglePrivatisation and crisis in the NHS

triangleCoventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council

Sharon Graham:

triangleSharon Graham: 100 days as Unite general secretary - the challenges ahead

Reports and campaigns

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23/2/22

Cardiff

Restore Cardiff's slashed services

23/2/22

Pay

Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

23/2/22

UCU

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London

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Fees

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Brighton

Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back

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Anti-cuts

Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate

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Newham

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Women

London Socialist Party women's meeting

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Socialist

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Coventry

Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council

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Strike

Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table

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Usdaw

Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

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Anti-cuts

Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


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