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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

United left statement on the condems cuts

April 9 2011 as agreed at United Left AGM, London

This UNITED LEFT unanimously confirms its opposition to all the ConDem Government’s spending cuts. We commit ourselves to fight this ideologically-driven assault on our much valued public services and welfare state which is designed to make working people pay for the economic crisis. Of course there is an alternative – reclaim the missing tax billions from the banks, the multinationals and the rich and powerful in our society who are getting away scot free! Maintain public spending and invest in our future to keep people in jobs and boost the economy!

We congratulate our General Secretary and our UNITE Executive Council in their position of opposing all ConDem Government’s cuts and their call for co-ordinated industrial action, but much more needs to be do

UNITE’s position needs to be communicated much more effectively to our officers and staff; our constitutional committees; our shop stewards and activists; our political (Labour Party Liaison) structures; UNITE MPs and Councillors – and to the media and the wider public. We have concern at the confusing messages apparently still being heard within certain sections of UNITE apparently sympathetic to the Labour leadership’s message of “Too Far, Too Fast” – the so-called “dented shield approach”. This must be robustly dealt with without delay.

We must do more to educate and engage our lay representatives, shop stewards and activists across all sectors of our Union and equip them with the arguments they need to use to engage our members and our local communities if the fightback against the cuts is to be effective. This campaign requires leadership from the top but also grassroots activity at local level.

We encourage all branches and constitutional committees to send resolutions to their Regional Committees and National Industrial Sector Committee and the Executive Council confirming their support for a robust strategy of fighting all ConDem cuts.

UNITED LEFT firmly believes co-ordinated industrial action is an essential tool in the fight against the cuts. Those decisions will of course be taken by our members in democratic postal ballots, but first they must know that they will have their Union’s full support and therefore the confidence to contemplate and then fight for industrial action. We therefore urge our General Secretary to write to all NISCs with a strong message of encouragement to take up the fight. This communication should go not just to those public sector NISCs who are in the direct firing line from the cuts, but to all NISC including those in the private sector. We are seeing an employers’ offensive unleashing itself against all workers - on their pay and conditions, their pensions and their collective bargaining rights. If workers vote to take strike action, they should be encouraged to co-ordinate their strike dates with others in dispute to maximise their effect. We particularly urge an immediate fight back through public sector co-ordinated strikes over pensions and job cuts, in conjunction with other unions.

UNITED LEFT believes we must take the fight to the Labour Party at all levels and make it clear that UNITE cannot support a position of “Too Far, Too Fast” – the so-called “dented shield approach”. We must urgently communicate with UNITE MPs and Councillors to make sure they have an unequivocal message from UNITE of opposing all cuts. They must know they will receive the full support of UNITE if they face disciplinary or other action for supporting UNITE policy. We must ensure UNITE supports candidates for election who oppose the cuts.

UNITED LEFT is determined that UNITE will never abandon those who face the most serious cuts of all; the poor and vulnerable in our society including the disabled, the unemployed and those on low incomes who are now beginning to suffer real hardship as the £18B Welfare Benefits cuts begin to bite. Some are our members but many are not. UNITE’s success in fighting the cuts will require us to stand shoulder to shoulder with those at the sharp end of these, the most vicious cuts of all, hitting those who often have no voice. We urge and encourage our UNITE activists, shop stewards and members to get involved in the fightback, linking up trade unionists with students, pensioners, tenants associations, community groups, the unemployed and welfare claimants.

This is a fight to defend our class. We must redouble our efforts to ensure we will win that fight. UNITED LEFT believes UNITE’s leadership is now on board. Now we must ensure that message runs through UNITE at all levels in everything we do.

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