Hundreds of angry union members from across Britain will gather in Manchester this Sunday (12 September) for a vocal lobby of TUC leaders on the eve of their annual Congress. The lobby, called by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN)*, will demand that the TUC “get off its knees” and name the day for a national demonstration against the Coalition government’s assault on the public sector and its workforce.
Elsewhere in Europe unions have mounted mass demonstrations, strikes, and in the case of Greece and Spain general strikes, in response to the austerity offensive launched by governments out to make working people pay for an economic crisis fuelled by bankers on seven figure bonuses.
In sharp contrast the TUC’s General Council, the leadership of more than seven million union members, has hardly uttered a peep of protest, even inviting the likes of David Cameron and Vince Cable to address the Congress. “In 100 days of the Con-Dem Coalition we have seen swingeing cuts of 25% across the public sector. Come October these could be ratcheted up to 40%. The TUC must break its shameful silence”, said Dave Chapple, a Bristol postman and CWU steward, who chairs the NSSN.
The NSSN has backed Congress resolutions from the PCS and RMT calling on the TUC to name the day for a united national trade union demonstration, inviting community campaigns, students, young people and pensioners to join in a mass protest against Chancellor George Osborne’s 20 October Comprehensive Sending Review. NSSN co-chair Rob Williams, a Swansea-based engineering worker and Unite convenor, stressed, “The General Council, and particularly those representing public sector unionists in the firing line, must channel workers’ anger in the face of a staggering million job cuts! Now is the time to come out fighting.”
With funding from dozens of union branches and Trades Councils, the NSSN has mobilised trades unionists from as far away as the South West, who will be travelling by coach and mini-bus to join the lobby from 12 noon onwards. The lobby will feature trade unionists from current disputes on the London Underground and the capital’s fire service, and will be followed by a short march through downtown Manchester to a rally at the city’s Mechanics Institute from 2.00 – 3.30 PM.
Whatever emerges from the TUC, the NSSN’s National Steering Committee will meet on 2 October to discuss the next steps in building the resistance to the Con-Dems’ cuts agenda.
For further information contact:
Bob Archer (Press Officer) 020 8522 1156 firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Taaffe (Secretary) 07952 283 558 email@example.com
Dave Chapple (Chair) 07780 568 782 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Launched in 2006, the NSSN is a cross-union body of elected activists, supported by several national unions including the Public & Commercial Services (PCS), Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT), Communication Workers’ Union (CWU), Prison Officers Association (POA) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).