Via Infoshop News
December 14, 2010
Clashing with this year’s anarchist bookfair was the TUC’s march against the cuts, coinciding with the Tory government’s “Comprehensive Spending Review.” Several weeks before, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), which lobbied the TUC at its conference, to take strong action against the cuts, met for its first scheduled national meeting since the AGM in the summer.
The organisation recently held an AGM, at which over 300 shop stewards and trade union activists attended as delegates. The autumn meeting of the body’s steering group, elected its officers, and the event saw the emergence of a syndicalist wing of the organisation. The syndicalists won a number of important positions within the organisation, and they aim to build on this by drawing others to their concrete proposals for how to take the network forward.
This is significant, because shop steward movements have arisen in times of economic crisis in the past, and where syndicalists have taken the lead; these movements have been a profound challenge to government and the bosses. It is this co-ordination at the base of the unions, among the rank and file, that enables workers at the grassroots to take powerful action in their own interests, without having to seek the approval first of those in the unions who might stand in their way. This is what makes this approach radical. And this is why the syndicalists in the shop stewards network mean to build the network, focusing on developing local organisation, activist skills, and grassroots workers power.
At this year’s anarchist bookfair, strong parallels were being drawn with the revolutionary and epochal moments of Britain’s past. The syndicalists in the NSSN held a meeting to discuss the significance of the emergence of this new movement, and the work that it has been undertaking to date – including placing pressure on the TUC to take action. The strategy appears to have paid off, with the NSSN adding to calls inside the TUC’s congress for a strong response leading to a stiffening of the trade union fightback. We are just at the beginning of what could be a revival of the trade unions at the grassroots, and syndicalists within the NSSN are pressing hard for concrete proposals to survey the organisation’s membership and allocate training and support to enable comrades on the frontline to rebuild their branch structures, organise and take the fight to the enemy. This is a period of epochal significance for the workers movement, and syndicalists in the NSSN urge anarchist comrades to come and join with them in the discussion.
Article orginally appeared in Freedom (Vol71 No20).
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