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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Almost a month ago, a coach full of trade unionists, Socialists, Greens and members of the local Axe the Bedroom Tax group as well as a few Labour party members, went off to Manchester for the Save the NHS march and rally outside Tory party conference. The police say around 50,000 were on the streets demonstrating which really means that at least this many turned out. Interestingly this was double the figure the TUC was anticipating in the run-up to the demo. Although the target was the attacks on the NHS this demo represented the culmination of frustration against the widely hated Tory lead government.

The Socialist Party nationally as well as locally had made a strong mobilisation for the demo which was clear from the many stalls, leafleters and paper sellers side by side with other left groups. In fact every imaginable kind of group from badger cull opponents to feminists and all manner of trade unions were on the streets with their material and banners. However, the collosal booing that rung out as we passed the venue of the Conservative party conference showed we were united in opposition to our common enemy.

The banner of the Tory conference read "For hardworking people" but the real hardworking people were the men and women who had came out to oppose this government determined to make ordinary people pay for a crisis they had no role in bringing about.

I talked with Hovis workers who after two weeks of strike action managed to win proper contracts for workers on zero hour terms. This victory was conceded by management at the start of their third strike. This is a very important precedent given the large numbers of young people affected by the scourge of casualised labour, zero-hour contracts with no rights or assurances. This victory shows that if we fight we can win.

The strikes that are taking place now must carry on what the demo started. Unions must coordinate their ballots and strike on the same day to have the greatest effect if the austerity steam-roller is to be pushed back and the millionaire government stopped in it's tracks.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Carlisle Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition met yesterday to discuss the Royal Mail sell off and twelve people attended. The meeting unanimously agreed the following resolution.
Carlisle Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition

Resolution 14th October 2013

This meeting condemns the privatisation of Royal mail and urges the public to support the fight by the Communication Workers' Union to maintain the service, jobs and conditions. If the mail workers have to strike to win these, it will be a fight in all our interests. We therefore expect politicians from all parties to take an unequivocal position on this fight: either FOR or AGAINST.

655,000 people now own what used to belong to all of us. Once again the 99% have been robbed by the 1%, and the big business financed politicians have aided and abetted. These shareholders are not “investors” but chancers, who will soon sell to the big City finance sharks and rake off hundreds of pounds of our money for doing nothing. While the new owners will bleed the service of around £200m a year in dividends, the workers will lose jobs and income and we will all pay through stamp price rises and a worsening service.

70% of the population oppose this plunder of their property, but what do politicians care about democratic will? 96% of mail workers oppose it, so the government has rushed it through, while using the undemocratic anti-union laws to pre-empt effective strike action. We therefore call for the renationalisation of Royal Mail and the previously hived-off delivery services, without compensation but this time under the democratic control of the mail workers and customers.

We welcomed the support of the Labour Party conference for the CWU's call for Labour to give a public commitment to renationalise, but condemn the leadership's refusal and subsequent acceptance of the privatisation. We therefore call on Carlisle Labour Party and its parliamentary candidate, Lee Sherriff, to clearly state whether they are for renationalisation or not. Otherwise workers and their unions will inevitably look to build a new party to represent their interests.

We also pledge support to the firefighters, teachers, probation officers, academic and technical university staff, NHS workers and public servants currently defending their jobs, services, wages or pensions and urge them to unite in effective, coordinated action through a TUC led one-day general strike.