Successful ‘Who’s Watching Whom’ conference discusses the fight for justice

Successful ‘Who’s Watching Whom’ conference discusses the fight for justice

CWU solidarity

The conference showing solidarity with the Communication Workers Union

By John Smith, PCS trade union rep (the videos of Ricky, Helen, Dave and Chris appear after the report below)

A successful conference was held in Coventry on Saturday entitled ‘Who’s Watching Whom – justice, trade union and democratic rights’. Organised by Coventry TUC and Unite Tom Mann branch, the event drew 115 people through the day.

Many people involved in different unions and campaign groups attended and were able to share their experiences and put forward some concrete points about how this can be fought against across the trade union movement. Some of the unions and campaign groups that also held stalls at the event to raise awareness and solidarity were the Communication Workers Union, Keep Our NHS Public, National Shop Stewards Network, British Pensioners Trade Union Action Association and the campaign against cuts to severely disabled childrens transport.

Ricky Tomlinson (known by millions for his role as Jim Royle in the BBC hit ‘The Royle Family’) was one of the main speakers – describing his victimisation for trade union activism which saw him receive a jail sentence! He gave a very passionate speech which received a standing ovation from the entire room.

Alongside Ricky there was also Dave Smith, author of the book ‘Blacklisted’, who spoke about the blacklisting of trade unionists in the construction industry, and Helen Steel, who spoke about her experience of abuse by an undercover policeman who went so far as to get into a relationship with her before suddenly disappearing – all part of a spying operation targeting political groups and activists.

Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union spoke about the surveillance of unions by the state and the attempts to sabotage them – and also highlighted the need for action against the public sector pay cap.

There were also examples given of the attempts by the state to also actively work to undermine unions – such as what happened with the CPSA (predecessor of the PCS union) in the 1980s following the election of John Macreadie as general secretary, who was a supporter of the Marxists grouped around the Militant newspaper (forerunner of the Socialist Party).

From the contributions from the speakers and also from people who attended, it was clear that undercover surveillance of unionists and political activists has taken place – contrary to the myth that “it couldn’t happen in Britain”! Indeed, we reported in 2016 the activities of one ‘Carlo Neri’, who the state had placed at tax payers expense in the Socialist Party.

The event was illuminating and inspiring for all who attended. It also helped remind us what we are up against in trying to build fighting, democratic trade unions and ultimately getting rid of capitalism. However the speakers were not pessimistic, on the contrary, all who attended left the conference fired up and with a greater understanding of how the state works and the lengths it will go to. One of the key messages was to ‘keep campaigning’, as the system can be defeated by a mass movement armed with a socialist programme to change society.

We encourage all our readers to check out the videos of the speakers below!

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Trade unionists speak out against low pay

Trade unionists speak out against low pay

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Coventry TUC campaigning against low pay

An event was held today in Broadgate Square on Saturday to highlight the effects of the Tory pay cap on vital public sector workers in our city. Organised by Coventry TUC, a number of speakers addressed shoppers explaining what pay cuts mean to working class people. Since 2010, many workers have lost thousands of pounds in real terms as the increase in the cost of living outstrips wages.

Across the public and private sector workers lose out whilst those at the top increase their wealth. Already there are cracks in the pay cap, now it is the task of the unions to organise action to not only break the cap, but to put an end to this Tory government.

Break the pay cap – join the protest on Saturday

Break the pay cap – join the protest in Saturday

TUC protest

Join the Coventry TUC protest

Coventry Trades Union Council have organised a protest for this Saturday to campaign against the Tory government’s 1 per cent pay cap on public sector workers. Speakers will also highlight the plight of workers in the private sector, who also face attacks and insecurity in the form of zero hour contracts and much more.

Read this article from a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper for further background.

Coventry TUC protest – break the pay cap

12-1pm, Broadgate Square, Coventry

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap

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Jane Nellist

We are pleased to carry this article from Socialist Party member Jane Nellist regarding the public sector pay cap. The article was originally published in a recent issue of The Socialist newspaper. Jane is joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers and a member of the NEC of her union, as well as being President of Coventry TUC (she writes here in a personal capacity)


Public sector wages – Pay up! Strike to smash the cap!

A stark new report by the government’s own advisors on public sector pay has shown that there was a 6% drop in average wages from 2005 to 2015.

That’s reflected in a £3 an hour loss for teachers, £2 an hour for police officers and £8 an hour for doctors.

More experienced teachers have lost as much as £5,000 a year because of pay restraint, and that doesn’t include the loss from increases in pension and National Insurance contributions.

There is a growing anger among public sector workers about low pay and funding cuts to the services they deliver. The Tories are wobbling on the public sector pay cap, with many cabinet members – fearing mass revolt – coming out for change.

But we cannot rely on their ‘good nature’! They’ll just cut somewhere else to pay for it. We must come out fighting.

At the 1 July ‘Not One Day More’ demo Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants’ union, absolutely nailed it when he posed the question: “Why don’t we have a public sector pay strike to break the pay cap?”

As each day goes by, the Tories are getting weaker. Even though mathematically they have a small majority, propped up by the billion-pound bribe for votes from the DUP, they have no authority.

And it’s not only pay they’re showing weakness on, some have hinted at tuition fees being on the table too. As their poll ratings plummet, they are more divided. We need to push harder to put them out of their misery.

The recent demo was vibrant and young. Labour’s manifesto started to lift aspirations on so many fronts. The mantra of austerity, ‘we are all in it together,’ is dead.

The mood is changing and there is a tangible feeling of victory in the air. That can become a reality, but only if the leadership of our trade unions starts to lead.

Now is the time to organise the millions of public sector workers in a serious coordinated campaign, including strike action, to win back dignity for public sector workers and the services we deliver.

3 years on from the J1O strike

3 years on from the J10 strike

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Ginger Jentzen address the rally

Today marks 3 years since public sector workers in Coventry and across the country took action against pay cuts, attacks on pensions and in defence of public services. It gave a glimpse of the power of workers from different unions striking together. Here in Coventry the strike was very well supported, with workers being given a boost by Socialist Alternative member Ginger Jentzen who was visiting from the United States. Ginger spoke at a 500 strong rally in Broadgate Square bringing solidarity from American workers and Socialist Alternative in the US.  To see pictures and reports of the picket lines, read our article here.

With the focus being brought back on to public sector pay, trade union members and activists needs to discuss the lessons of previous pay campaigns in order to make sure this time we win a decent pay rise as well as getting rid of the Tories. We encourage readers of this site to have a look at the article by Socialist Party trade union organiser Rob Williams who discusses how we can take the movement forward.

Want to help break the pay cap and get the Tories out? Fill in the form below!

 

May Day in Coventry

May Day in Coventry

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PCS Vice-President John McInally speaking at Coventry May Day rally

As part of protests, rallies and demonstrations around the world to mark International Workers’ Day an event was held in Coventry city centre, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry against Racism.

As well as local speakers from a wide variety of unions and campaigns, the main speaker this year was John McInally, national Vice-President of the PCS civil service union.

John outlined the current situation facing working class people, and the need to get rid of capitalism and fight for socialism. He pointed out that 100 years ago in Russia, many people would have said it was impossible to get rid of the Tsar. Yet working class people not only overthrew the Tsar, but also capitalism.

Other speakers included Dave Nellist on the history and origins of May Day, a speaker from UCU, an NUT rep, a member of the Indian Workers’ Association, a Socialist Party member calling for solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya and an activist from Stand up to Racism.

Coventry TUC have ensured that the tradition of May Day is kept alive and hundreds of shoppers will have heard pro trade union, anti racist and socialist arguments. In the coming years this event will grow as the working class begins to find its voice, and rediscovers it’s revolutionary history and the relevance for today’s struggles.

On Monday we will be publishing an article by Dave Nellist in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper on the real origins of May Day.

Coventry commemorates International Workers’ Memorial Day

Coventry commemorates International Workers’ Memorial Day

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Trade unionists from across Coventry came together for International Workers’ Memorial Day 

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day, and an event was held in Coventry to remember those that have died through work related issues, all those that suffer through a lack of appropriate health and safety regulation and increases in workplace stress.

Each year thousands of workers are killed, fall sick or are injured in the workplace. This is linked to increasingly exploitative employment practices such as zero hour contracts and attacks on holiday entitlement and sick pay.

One of the themes this year was the growing ‘Gig economy’ with more workers being employed through companies like Uber and Deliveroo. Joel, a campaigner with Youth Fight for Jobs highlighted this very point, explaining that unless the economy and society are re-organised on socialist lines to put people before profit, things are very bleak for young people under the capitalist system.

Two speakers from Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre told the audience about the problems being faced by workers from abroad. Organising these workers in to trade unions will be a key task for the movement, to ensure everyone has a decent wage and to stop employers and their ‘race to the bottom’.

Other speakers included the Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Skipper, who thanked Coventry TUC for organising the event, Sarah Feeney from UNISON, Stephen Cowden from UCU, JP Rosser from PCS, and Alan Lewis and John Swift from UNITE.

In closing the meeting, Jane Nellist President of Coventry TUC urged those gathered to pledge to “remember the dead and fight for the living”. A key part of that will be building stronger and more militant trade unions, linked to a socialist programme to end the capitalist system that puts profit before the lives and wellbeing of workers and their families.

Coventry TUC have organised a May Day Rally for Saturday 29th April, 11am in Broadgate. One of the main speakers will be John McInally, vice-president of PCS.