The Right to Work Campaign organised a successful People’s Convention last weekend. There is a report on the RTW web-site and taken from that is this summary of the ‘campaigning points’ they agreed in the workhops.
A brief summary of the campaigning points agreed at the workshops at the People’s Convention
Alternatives to austerity
Countering the myth that there is no alternative, we agreed the following:
1. Tax, pay and debt justice
Stop tax avoidance, evasion and non-collection totaling £120bn a year (compared to deficit of £160bn). Levy a wealth tax, including possibly a tax on interest paid on national debt). At the moment the poorest 20% pay higher proportion of their income in tax than the richest 20%. No pay freeze. Reverse the trend to profit getting an ever higher share of GDP. Debt forgiveness for those too poor to repay their debts. A land value tax.
2. Sustaining the environment to stop climate change
One million climate jobs. Carbon cuts not job cuts. No forest sell off. Shorter hours and so longer holidays, making alternatives to holiday flights practical for working people
3. System change
Bring the banks under popular ownership and control. Democratise the international financial institutions. People’s assemblies
Organising a Local anti cuts campaign
Reports from all around the country. There was a discussion about how we build collective action. We need action wherever there are closures, in supporting strikes etc. Invite students onto every event to bring the energy of their movement. Organise feeder marches on local and national events. Organise regional as well as local meetings to pool experiences.
Disabled People at the forefront of the resistance
Disabled people should be fully involved in March 26th. It is necessary to make the event accessible. We should be represented on the platform. To organise sustained action against ATOS, including a national day of protest. To organise a month of action about human rights abuses. To propose that all anti cuts groups should have a sub group to work with disabled people. 11th May march and protest.
Justice for all: Save Legal Aid
- to have a contingent of lawyers and advice sector workers on the TUC demo on 26/3
- to call a day of action in the sector over the legal aid cuts
- to support the Defend the Right to Protest Campaign
Mobilising against the racism of the cuts
We discussed the disproportionate effect of the cuts on BME communities. Discussed campaigning and legal work. Suggested that campaigners invite BARAC members to anti cuts meetings. Initiate joint action between ESOL users and present legal changes. Direct action and industrial action involving BME communitie. Affiliate union branches to BARAC.
Organising claimants against the attacks on benefits
Workfare = working for your benefit. The Single work program to be introduced this summer will be punitive. People should have access to a grievance procedure. Workfare in New York has no free collective bargaining. Unemployed should have a union. Workfare will be used to drive down wages.
Pledge to boycott workfare.
The battle against Privatisation
There’s something different going on in health, local govt etc. we need to pressure local councillors. The Speech & language strike in the NHS is the first strike. There is a lot of action in the NHS – 300 Marched at Homerton Hospital. 250 protested outside London hospital. Call for a Day X for the NHS with uniformed health workers through London ending at Barts. Build March 26th, think big.
Pamphlet on a million climate jobs is an important tool. Take the demands into the anti cuts movement. Take climate speakers to anti cuts meetings. We need public meetings defending forestry commission. Want to speak to the unions about what kind of jobs we want. We need to initiate a big petition. Organise a march involving unemployed workers and climate campaigners.
We not slaves: Organising with Migrant workers against racism, immigration raids and no pay
Meetings between the participants in this workshop mean we hope we have a unified plan. The workshop reflects a wide spectrum of organisations. Everyone should reject the slogan “British Jobs for British Workers”. Recognise that immigration controls affect unions. Joint work – proposing a ‘bust card’ to take to the TUC asking for their support. Push for unions to agree that Thompsons Solicitors do immigration work. Regular sessions of advice for migrant workers. We have approached the refugee council for a joint delegation on 26th March. Approaching UNITE – following the death of a refugee being deported – to think about how to resist for expulsion flights. Think about what you can do in refugee week.
Building Fighting Unions
Participants in this workshop agreed a series of action points in order to build our unions at all levels to fight the cuts effectively. The action points are as follows:
- Invite to branch meetings Egyptian workers, student protesters and other individuals taking current strike action, such as the Southwark Speech and Language Therapists, in order to share not only stories of struggle, but to celebrate successful struggle.
- Continue to build solidarity through visiting picket lines, making collections in our workplaces and fighting the demands of bullying management wherever opportunities arise.
- Make petitioning a regular part of branch activity by identifying any petitions in circulation that are particularly relevant to our places of work and presenting the arguments enthusiastically to collect as many signatures as possible.
- Organise snap demonstrations, such as that which took place outside Homerton Hospital on the 7th February, to mobilize union members and continue to build solidarity, especially between workers who might not previously have taken part in direct action together.
- Support the proposed march of health workers through central London in early March.
- Argue the case for action in our workplaces through regular meetings and make use of the wealth of literature that exists to support this, such as the TUC’s pamphlet ‘Cuts are not the Cure’.
- Build for ballots over cuts in order to mobilize strike action and, where reps don’t have confidence to call meetings, take an indicative email ballot to build confidence before calling a meeting (one comrade received 120 emails in 3 hours in response to such a campaign, 119 of which were in favour of strike action).
- Secure a huge turnout at the March for the Alternative on March 26th by organising subsidised transport through our local branches, selling as many tickets as we possibly can and encouraging union members to participate in leafleting.
- Commit to making 26th March the ‘launch point’ for a campaign of General Strike action.
- Maintain the following principled position: we do not oppose one of the cuts; we do not oppose some of the cuts; we oppose ALL of the cuts and we will fight them ALL together.
Report by Paul Brandon, Chair, Right to Work