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National Shop stewards Network agrees to launch an "anti-cuts campaign, bringing trade unions and communities together to save all jobs and services"

REPORT FROM THE NSSN CONFERENCE 22/01/11

Nearly 600 people met on Saturday 22 January for the special anti-cuts conference of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN). Motion one', from a majority of the NSSN steering committee, proposed that the NSSN launches an "anti-cuts campaign, bringing trade unions and communities together to save all jobs and services".

Motion 'two', from a minority of the steering committee, proposed that the NSSN should not launch an anti-cuts campaign, and instead should "do everything constructive, through discussions with Coalition of Resistance, Right to Work and other groups, to build and launch a single national anti-cuts organisation early in 2011" (see appendix for the two motions). Two NSSN officers chaired the discussion, one from each side of the debate.

In the vote after the debate, 305 trade union branch and workplace representatives voted for motion one, against 89 for motion two (NB: nearly 200 observers and anti-cuts campaign representatives also attended the conference but were not part of this vote, to respect the democratic structure of the NSSN). Those supporting Motion 1, the majority position, included the following points:

  • Labour councils should refuse to pass on government cuts, as Liverpool and Lambeth councils did in the 1980s.
  • The NSSN was set up a long time before Right to Work (RtW) and Coalition of Resistance (CoR)
  • Some of the supporters of Motion 2 accept the need for some cuts
  • Trade unions are weaker today than in the 1980s, so the NSSN's key task is to establish the base for trade union resistance to the cuts.
  • The role of the NSSN is to continue to build workers' solidarity and the shop stewards' movement.
  • We can not stop all the cuts
  • The NSSN can not set itself up as the leadership of the campaign against the cuts

There were 30 contributions altogether in the debate, 15 for motion one and 15 for motion two.

Appendix:

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Whilst Conference should allow time for a full and necessary debate concerning trade union bodies supporting anti-cuts candidates in 2011 elections, the NSSN will leave decisions as to whether to stand such candidates to our local and national affiliates.

Pete McLaren 24/01/11

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