Trades Councils speak out

by New Worker correspondents

THE NATIONAL Trades Council conference took place last Saturday, 14th May in Peterborough Town Hall. It was a very inspiring conference, both young and elderly making their contributions and reports of their local councils in their fight against the cuts.

Michael Fletcher from Colchester Trades Council, who is national industrial organiser for the New Communist Party, was elected to the south east region executive committee and will be representing the national joint consultative committee.

He moved a motion to save the Forestry Commission, saying it was a victory for the British people and the environmental movement. The motion was carried unanimously.

There were several international fraternal delegates, including from the United States and Palestine. Kevin Doherty, from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said: “NHS privatisation is not just an English issue. If it was to continue, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could follow. We should stimulate debate in what sort of society we want our children to live in.”

The conference decided that the motion for the TUC congress would be on the cuts in the NHS. The conference also passed a motion to repeal anti-trade union laws to fight the Con-Dem proposals.

The conference delegates presented themselves in an atmosphere of solidarity with many people who were against the cuts. New Workers were sold out on day one. The conference was encouraged with the involvement of young people in the struggle.

Thierry Schaffauser, from Hackney Trades Council, made an intervention on a motion against the cuts. He said: “Sex workers are massively affected by the cuts because we are often single mothers, migrants and students. As a student myself in London Metropolitan university I can say that I struggle to pay my tuition fees and that the course I attend will not exist anymore after this year.

“I will give only one concrete example about how the cuts affect sex workers.

During Labour years, we fought and won to have free sexual health care.

However sexual health clinics and health projects are at risk. Yet they don’t provide just free sexual health but often support against violence, drug and alcohol addiction or help for housing.

“My branch was part of the 26th March demonstration and we are also involved in other anti-cuts campaigns. We are real workers and real trade unionists. We are part of the working class and we are committed to the labour movement. Thanks.”

The keynote speaker was NUT general secretary Christine Blower. She spoke of the fight against Government proposals for education and the NUT’s longstanding support for trades councils.

Jean Lambert MEP, a former teacher from Walthamstow, East London, has been London’s Green MEP since 1999 spoke on greening the workplace and sustainable development have been central to the trades union councils.