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Alex Gordon (President, RMT) address to NSSN special anti cuts conference, London 22-01-11

Alex Gordon (President, RMT) address to NSSN special anti cuts conference, London 22-01-11

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Published by Dave Nellist

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Published by: Dave Nellist on Jan 23, 2011
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01/23/2011

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Keynote address by Alex Gordon, President of the National Union of Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers (RMT) to National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) special anti cuts conference; London, January 22nd 2011.At the end of the conference, the trade union delegates present voted, by 305 to89, to set up the NSSN anti-cuts campaign."Comrades, brothers and sisters, friends:The National Shop Stewards Network is 5 years old this year. In October 2006 hundreds of trade union lay activists and trade union workplace representatives met at the Camden Centre in London to build a grass-roots campaign in support of John McDonnell, MP’s Trade Union Freedom Bill.That NSSN founding Conference was brought together on the initiative of the RMTunion, as a consequence of a resolution carried a few months earlier at that year’s RMT Annual General Meeting calling on our union to launch an open conference to rebuild the shop stewards’ movement in Britain.I am proud that that resolution originated from my own trade union branch - Bristol Rail RMT branch. We should all be proud of what has been achieved since NSSN’s founding conference in 2006.The NSSN has successfully:continued to bring together trade unionists in an inclusive and non-sectarian way at a series of national conferences with an open and participative character,which contrasts strongly with the ‘top-down’, platform speaker approach adopted by some other organisations;developed an open and democratic national structure;developed several active regional structures;participated in major events in the labour movement calendar such as the DurhamMiners’ Gala;initiated rallies, demonstrations and fringe meetings at TUC Conferences and atmany trade union conferences;now officially backed by RMT, PCS, CWU, POA and NUM.Every trade unionist here today at this Special NSSN Conference should be awarethat the debate over the way forward for the working class movement - to build astrong and united, grass roots movement of trade unionists to take back our rights at work and to support those who are fighting back against the employers, politicians and judges aiming to shackle trade unions and turn the clock back on social and welfare rights to a pre-welfare state era – is the most important debateaffecting the NSSN today.For the NSSN to take a spectator’s seat in the battle that has started against theausterity cuts announced by George Osbourne on 20 October 2010 to ecstatic applause from government supporters and city bankers alike, would damage the NSSN’s credibility in the eyes of all serious fighting trade unions and will put in question the relevance of the NSSN to rank and file trade unionists who are fightingthe impact of the ‘ConDem’ cuts as they are implemented in the NHS, in local authorities and public services over the next four years – but particularly over the next6 months as the job losses begin to be announced.The NSSN was founded explicitly to campaign in support of an overtly political demand – the demand for Trade Union Freedom - and the campaign to support John McDonnell, MP’s Trade Union Freedom Bill.Although John’s private member’s Bill was frustrated by government whips from reaching a second reading in the House of Commons, allow me to remind comrades here today, that support for the Trades Union Freedom Bill was the subject of heated po

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