The left was seen by many to have taken its time to organise a proper fightback to the cuts and austerity but we can be in no doubt now that the trade unions and the left is here and fighting back. We in the National shops stewards network can feel very proud of the role we have played so far in the struggles against the cuts and privatisation.
The increasingly important role the NSSN is playing in the anti-cuts movement means that the democratic debates which took place at the beginning of the year on whether the NSSN should launch an anti-cuts campaign at all now seem a distant memory.
Events have quickly confirmed that the NSSN was right to do so.
Split from SWP
Nonetheless it is worthwhile briefly commenting on recent developments in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) because they have so clearly confirmed many of the points made by the Socialist Party in the debate at the beginning of the year.
In the run up to the January NSSN conference the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) was among the most vociferous opponents of an NSSN anti-cuts campaign being launched on the spurious grounds that it would unnecessarily divide the movement to launch another national anti-cuts campaign when Coalition of Resistance (CoR) and Right to Work (RtW) were already in existence.
In the anti-cuts movement there is rightly and inevitably a mood for unity. Nonetheless, as was understood by a large majority of delegates at the NSSN anti-cuts conference, to attempt to use that mood as a reason to oppose the NSSN launching its own anti-cuts campaign was completely disingenuous.
The NSSN has consistently argued for the maximum possible cooperation between the national anti-cuts campaigns. To give just two examples from recent weeks the NSSN invited RtW and CoR to speak on its stages at the TUC demo and has taken part in joint delegations to discuss with the TUC.
However, to merge the three campaigns into one organisation would only be a step forward if the net result was an open, democratic anti-cuts campaign organised around a clear, fighting programme.
So as we move towards the autumn with the high possibility of big mass strikes to come in the public sector we feel that the NSSN has and still is playing a key role in the fight against the cuts. I do feel at present though we do have to keep trying to reach out to other parts of the working class such as the reserve army of workers AKA the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly and women too of course.
On 30 November, two to three million public sector workers will be on strike to defend their pensions. More workers will be out than on the first day of the 1926 general strike.
The NSSN is proud of the role that it's played in paving the way. On 11 September we lobbied the TUC Congress and held a rally under the slogan of a 24-hour public sector general strike. Over 700 shop stewards and trade unionists listened to leading union speakers such as Mark Serwotka of the PCS and Bob Crow of the RMT.
This government of millionaires can be defeated by coordinated strike action. Millions of workers striking together can stop the Con-Dems in their tracks. And if one day is not enough to force a u-turn, we must prepare for a two-day strike as the next stage of the escalating action.
In all the workplace meetings, shop stewards' committees and union branch committees, the message has to be hammered home that workers shouldn't pay the price for the bankers' crisis.
Workers have shown their determination to fight at every opportunity they've been given this year. Over 500,000 marched against the cuts in London on 26 March and over 750,000 civil servants, teachers and lecturers went on strike against the pension attacks on 30 June.
But the first job for 30 November is to win the strike ballots with an overwhelming vote. Meetings have to be organised in every workplace. Where there is more than one union, these could be joint meetings. Members of the PCS, NUT, UCU and ATL unions who were out on 30 June and have live strike mandates should be invited to speak. This can give confidence to the many workers who haven't been on strike before.
These can be supplemented by public meetings and rallies in towns and cities and on estates to draw in other working class people - young people and all those who suffer from and oppose the cuts, including private sector workers who also face job losses and pay and pension cuts.
The NSSN encourages all private sector workers involved in current disputes to consider coordinating their industrial action with the strike on 30 November. As Mark Serwotka said at the NSSN rally on 11 September: "Low-paid workers in the private sector are exploited by shareholders and executives, not by fellow low-paid workers in the public sector."
A victory for public sector workers on pensions, by forcing a retreat or even the downfall of this government, would raise the confidence to fight back.
What you can do:
If your union is balloting, you could organise a workplace meeting, if applicable jointly with other unions. This should form the basis for democratic control of the strike
You could organise a public meeting in your town or city with the unions in dispute or trades council, anti-cuts campaign or NSSN. Explain the need to prepare for further action if necessary
Plan a demonstration in your town or city on the day of the strike
All united - invite private sector workers, young people, unemployed, pensioners, etc to any public meetings, rallies and demonstrations
In this issue
Building for 30 November strike
Mass strikes can
Many call for unity at these times but certainly on the industrial front against cuts this is key and teh NSSN i feel is leading the way showing a lead in the struggles against the boss's. With big unions and trade union leaders now backing the network such as Bob Crow and Mark Serwotka two of the more militant trade unin leaders out there are highlighting the role the NSSN has played in putting pressure on the TUC to call for a 24 hour public sector general strike. We feel that we added to the feeling and the pressure by lobbying the TUC on the 11th of september and will happily do so again next year if need be. We will not rest and sit by while our fellow workers in the public and private sector are under attack. We need a organisation like the NSSN to bring together all of the struggles unite under one banner and give support quickly and effectively when needed to workers.
The NSSN is key in the struggle as it gives rank-and-file trade unionists a voice and a network to organise in. To learn off each other and unite our struggles.
I think we can feel proud of our role and i hope the NSSN continues to grow and remain strong, democratic and a fighting organisation for militant trade unionists.