The latest meeting of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) steering committee took place on 29 September against a growing tide of trade union action, particularly in the public sector. This was reflected in the reports given of disputes that have taken place, continuing or are looming.
A major item at this meeting was the election of officers to lead the network in the coming period. Amongst those elected were Socialist Party member Linda Taaffe as secretary and CWU activist Dave Chapple as chairperson. Three other Socialist Party members, including Visteon convenor Rob Williams as vice-chairperson, were elected to the ten-person officer group.
Reports were also given on the progress in setting up meetings of the network in the regions and Scotland and Wales, details of which will be put up on the website: www.shopstewards.net
Also important will be building the funds to get the NSSN financially independent, although the committee was very grateful for the support of the RMT in setting up and supporting the network in its early stages. To raise regular amounts of cash it will be seeking affiliations and donations from trade union branches and stewards' committees.
Finally, attempts to remove the input of political parties in the network were heavily defeated. This was seen partly as a thinly-veiled attack on socialist groups, including the Socialist Party, whose members had striven hard to make the network a success.
It was recognised that a general socialist perspective was absolutely necessary to encourage involvement in the network of ordinary trade unionists and to make it representative of workers looking for an industrial and political alternative to New Labour.