UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

We are the resistance - failure is not an option

‘This is what resistance looks like, hundreds of thousands of workers coming together to protest. We shall resist. We are the resistance – all of those who stand up for social justice and trade union rights – this is our time and failure is not an option. Our time has come’ said Fred Redmond, International Vice President of the 850,000 strong United Steelworkers union, speaking on events in Wisconsin at a well attended meeting in London on Thursday.

The event was organised by the South East region of the TUC (SERTUC) and a wide range of speakers highlighted the global nature of the economic crisis, the austerity measures which it has precipitated and the common battles being faced by workers across Europe.

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone observed that the neo liberal agenda had failed on its own terms. Attacks on unions, reversing progressive taxation and deregulation had not led to increased growth and full employment.

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, referred to Con Dem educational policies such as the abolition of EMA as 'acts of vandalism'.

Owen Tudor of the European and International Department at the TUC spoke about cuts and austerity measures across Europe, outlining the serious threat to workers' living standards and trade unions posed by the economic policy of the European Union.

Jimmy Kelly Unite Irish regional secretary, spoke of the 'absolute destruction of services which working people depend on' across all parts of Ireland. He warned that trade unions 'will not be able to march our way out of the crisis but will need to take industrial action to roll back the attacks'. In Ireland there had been a blatant transfer of private banking debt into public debt.

Didier Louvet an official of CGT in the Nord-Pas de Calais region, France, spoke about the battles being fought by French workers, notably the long running campaign to defend pension rights which are under sustained attack from the Sarkozy Government. Didier warned of the dangerous resurgence of far right forces seeking to exploit the alienation and despair of workers facing unemployment. He spoke of the economically and socially unjust European Competitiveness Pact being promoted by the French and German Governments which advocates further liberalisation, lower wages, decentralisation of collective wage bargaining, cuts in pensions etc.

Fernando Puig-Samper of the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO Spain), reported that workers in Spain are facing severe attacks on collective bargaining, wages, pensions and social security. All investment in public infrastructure has been stopped. Meanwhile the income of CEO's and bankers in Spain has risen by over 20% in the past year. Fernando stated that 'the politics of laissez faire have resulted in a global disaster. What is needed is more regulation and social participation to rectify and improve the economy'.

This was an excellent event and proof, if needed, that UK workers' and trade unions are far from alone in battling against austerity measures and attacks on union rights.

Monday 4 April has been designated a day of solidarity with Wisconsin workers and trade unions. The TUC is holding a rally from 6-8pm at Congress House in London;