Unions prepare to fight cuts

by Caroline Colebrook

TUC CONFERENCE next month in Manchester is set to be an arena for the discussion and coordination of a mass public campaign against the Coalition Government’s planned cuts and to defend jobs, services and pensions and to restore full trade union rights.

The RMT transport union has taken the lead with a call for co-ordinated strike action, a national demonstration in October and a link up with community groups in the fight against the cuts and against the “class warfare” of the Con-Dem government.

Other unions are also calling for the defence of the public sector and pensions and the repeal of anti-trade union laws.

The RMT motion calls on the trade union movement to:

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The TUC has to be the launch-pad for the fight back against the Coalition Government’s decision to unleash all out class warfare through their unprecedented attack on our communities, public services, welfare state and transport system.

“Our defence must be built on generalised strike action and community resistance in the biggest public mobilisation since the anti-poll tax movement.

“RMT is in no doubt that the Government is using the deficit as a thinly veiled cover to engage in an ideological dismantling of the state and an attack on workers, and the most vulnerable in our society, which goes far further than even the dark days of Thatcher.

“As well as setting out plans for our own co-ordinated industrial and community action we also send a message of solidarity to our comrades in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and elsewhere who are fighting similar cuts to jobs, standards of living and public services.”

RMT is calling for a national Day of Action on 20th October — the day Chancellor George Osborne is due to disclose details of a spending review designed to cut public spending by £83 billion.

Another day of marches and demonstrations is planned for 23rd October, and a series of strike days during the autumn as unions gear up to fight an expected 600,000 public sector job losses.

Other unions tabling motions for the TUC conference that also call for co-ordinated union action include the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unison, the National Union of Teachers and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union with 1.3 million members is calling on unions to support a Europe-wide day of action in September.

It called on the TUC to back the European Trade Union Confederation’s planned European Day of Action on 29th September, which will include a rally in Brussels, timed to coincide with a meeting of European Union finance ministers.

Meanwhile RMT is also warning the Government against any further changes to trade union law which would prompt strike action.

In defending public sector pensions, the giant union Unite has accused the Government and media of creating a “lynch mob mentality” against public sector pensions.

Unite, which represents more than 250,000 public sector workers, believes this coalition of vested interests has already decided that public sector pensions should be reduced, and has created a climate of hysteria designed to manipulate the facts to make the case for this.

TUC evidence to Lord Hutton’s pensions review published last Tuesday said that public service pensions are both affordable and sustainable.