I want to thank everyone who attended and helped organise yesterday's excellent NSSN Anti-Cuts Conference in Camden. Well over 500 shop stewards/workplace reps, community campaigners and students debated whether the NSSN should launch an anti-cuts campaign. It was a model of democratic debate with both sides having the same number of speakers and equal speaking time. After 2 and a half hours of discussion, the trade union delegates at the Conference voted to launch the anti-cuts campaign by 305 votes to 89. We then went on to elect a Campaign Committee. As we received 11 nominations for the proposed committee of 10, Conference agreed to accept the slightly enlarged committee, which will meet over the next couple of weeks.
We are now looking forward to working with all other forces fighting the cuts. We will especially welcome the suggestion in Matt Wrack’s (Gen Sec FBU) letter last week for a Unity conference called by the Trade Union Coordinating Group (TUCG). We will also follow through on the initial contacts made with the other anti-cuts organisations to see how we can work together more smoothly. Just before the Conference, the NSSN signed a letter along with Coalition of Resistance, Right to Work and others to the TUC offering our assistance to build for the biggest possible turnout at the demo in London on March 26th.
We will lobby on that march and in all other arenas for the unions to organise co-ordinated strike action to defeat the government's cuts. We also believe that the platform of speakers on the day should include those workers and students who are currently fighting the cuts. Our NSSN campaign has been launched on a clear 'Oppose ALL cuts' platform and will therefore call on Labour councils to refuse to implement the cuts. We will organise protests and support industrial action against them if they vote to pass the attacks onto workers’ jobs and services.
The character of the NSSN will not change as a result of Saturday’s decision. We will still play a crucial role in bringing together and developing trade union activists at the grassroots, which we hope and believe, will help revitalise the trade union movement. The continuing attacks by the ConDems on trade union rights are clearly linked to trying to prevent workers fighting back against the cuts and the bosses’ offensive.
The next meeting of the NSSN Steering Committee will be on February 19th, where we can begin to discuss, amongst other things, the planning for the annual NSSN conference in the summer, as well as how the Network will continue to organise rank and file workers. We appeal to whole of the Steering Committee to recognise the democratic decision of the Conference and play a full part in the development of the NSSN. We are confident that the decision yesterday will actually bring us in contact with a whole new layer of workers as they confront this brutal cuts package.
Linda Taaffe (NSSN Secretary)