Report by Linda Taaffe, NSSN Secretary
As seven workers from Honda Swindon were leaving the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference on Saturday 11 June, one car worker remarked: "I wish we could have brought a coachload!".
This was a typical reaction amongst the 350 workers attending the best conference NSSN has held so far, a regular event that is rapidly becoming a feature in the calendar of the labour movement.
It was a solid working-class trade union conference getting ready for the huge struggles ahead, aware of the difficulties but ready for the fight. Opening the conference, NSSN chair Rob Williams pointed out that we were meeting just 19 days before a real milestone - the 30 June joint strike of teachers and civil servants against the pensions robbery.
Martin Powell Davies from the National Union of Teachers national executive remarked: "The school hall we are meeting in is packed full today; on 30th June it will be totally empty."
Janice Godrich, president of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) declared that 30 June should not just be a protest strike but a day to light a spark that will give confidence to all other public sector unions to join in and swell the force to four million workers for more strikes in the autumn.
Mark Palfrey, London Communication Workers Union (CWU), said that although his union was not yet joining the action it would respect all picket lines and he and others would be doing what they can to get the union on board, especially now that mail privatisation and closures are on the cards again.
Alex Gordon, Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) president, reminded delegates about the biggest ever trade union demonstration that was held on 26th March, showing what the TUC can do when it lifts its little finger.
But he urged that this event should not be squandered. The correct conclusions about the way forward must be drawn.
A general strike is needed. The £81 million of cuts so far are only year one of the Tory programme.
The NSSN will work with unions and anti-cuts campaigns everywhere to demand that councillors refuse to implement cuts....
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