Sunday 4 November 2007

Unity, Coordination and Networks

In recent times the desire among working people for unity has been very noticeable.

Maybe this comes from the feeling that we need all the strength we can muster, after the terrible defeats of the 1980s.

Maybe it is due to the fact that any workplace struggle taking place now happens against the backdrop of a general radicalisation - a "common sense" feeling against fat cats bosses, unbridled corporate power and profits being put before people. It's as if the anti-globalisation and anti-war movements have left an imprint on the thinking of us all.

Maybe the way the same gung-ho management styles are being used to make us work longer and harder for less, whether we're in the public or private sector, manufacturing or services - has led to the realisation that we're all facing very similar problems.

Whatever the cause, the effect is marked. During our own dispute at Fujitsu this year, some of our strike days coincided with strikes by PCS civil servants (nationally) and UNISON health workers (locally in Manchester). When we held joint rallies and other activities, everyone felt stronger.

I think it's this desire for unity and coordination that has led to a number of initiatives to bring together union activists on a wide scale, such as "Public Service not Private Profit" (PSnPP), Organising For Fighting Unions (OFFU) and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN). They each have their differences, but I think they're all worth supporting. The more trade unionists who do this, the greater the chance of them complementing each other to strengthen our movement.

In Manchester we had a PSnPP rally in January, and there have been several OFFU events. These, along with the trades councils and solidarity work around various disputes have helped strengthen the networks of trade unionists locally - to everyone's benefit.

I attended a local OFFU meeting this week, discussing various disputes and campaigns and making plans for future events - the Manchester group is meeting again on the 13th. The NSSN is starting to plan a North-West regional conference
- the planning meeting is:
11am-3pm, Saturday 17th November, The Casa, 29 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1 9BQ

It's unfortunate to say the least (and a sign of how much is going on these days) that this clashes with the Amicus Unity Gazette national supporters meeting, the Labour Representation Committee conference and the Respect conference to name just a few!

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