TUC calls for anti-cuts committees

Submitted by martin on 22 September, 2010 - 3:32

At its congress in Manchester (13-16 September) the TUC voted to "encourage unions to use the impact of the Spending Review to build local campaign groups..."

It talked of building "a great campaign against the cuts - rooted in every community and with a clear national voice..."

Top union leaders told the press that they plan to delay industrial action until next spring - which begs questions about what they will do about attacks coming now, like Birmingham City Council's decision to ask all its non-school workers to accept cuts in pay and conditions or be sacked.

But the motion passed by the TUC does talk about industrial action... some time. GMB national secretary Brian Strutton said his union would "begin preparation for national industrial action next month".

And the decision about building local campaign groups is for immediate action.

This may mean more trade-union-official control of local anti-cuts committees, as has happened in the North-East, where local Public Sector Alliances have been set up under the control of a regional committee made up of leading full-timers from eight unions, and with a local full-time official in charge in each area.

The "Unison-PCS alliance" on cuts, announced earlier in September, may have a similar effect of increasing the weight of full-time union officials in local campaigns.

At the same time, these decisions open the way for building anti-cuts committees which draw in a very broad range of the labour movement, allowing groups which so far have had difficulty reaching out beyond the usual circle of regular left-group activists to become really representative delegate bodies.

The outcome will vary according to how much initiative and assertiveness local activists muster, and how much pressure there is within the unions on full-time officials to license or even encourage real campaigning.

The TUC has sketched a timetable which goes from a rally in Central Hall Westminster on Tuesday 19 October, on the eve of the Spending Review, to "a major national demonstration in March 2011 on a date to be confirmed as soon as possible".

Many trade unionists are unhappy about the TUC delaying until next March for the demonstration. In London, a demonstration on 23 October has been initiated by the Regional Council of the RMT rail union (11:00, Unity House, Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD), and the Scottish TUC is also marching on 23 October (11:00, East Market St, Edinburgh).

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