Tag Archives: solidarity

The Durham Big Meeting

20 Jul

by Kate Osamor

Unite's banner at the Gala

Unite has produced a political strategy which outlines “our” view on how to ensure working class people can take up political positions within the labour party. Recent article/blogs have made claim that the strategy is a move for Unite the union to take over the Labour party. This is untrue and very misleading.

For years trade unions have backed the Labour leadership and supported the appointment of Labour MP’s, Sadly with little recognition. The policy involves Unite fighting for more for trade union-backed MPs, a restoration of democracy and for policies which would commit the Labour Party to improving employment rights and opposing all cuts.

Last week I had the pleasure of going to the Unite Political school, held at Durham University, to work on understanding the political strategy and how best to implement it. For 3 long days we discussed why politics matters, how to win Labour for working people and how best to win working people for Labour

We worked in small break away groups looking at identifying any barriers to success and how to overcome them, as well as pledging group/individual plans on how to apply the strategy in our workplaces and union branches.

The school coincided with The Durham Miners’ Gala, known locally as “The Big Meeting”, which is the annual celebration of the Durham coalfield’s heritage and trade unionism. First held in 1871, with unions marching into the city, the Gala has developed into an elaborate socialist iconography, where ‘working class’ people march together with banners and brass bands. As part of a Unite delegation, we marched through the streets of Durham on to the old racecourse, to hear political speeches from Ed Miliband (the first Labour MP to attend the Gala in over 20 years) and Tom Watson MP amongst other great comrades.

I was part of history and feel very proud to have attended both the political school and the Durham Miners Gala.


Kate Osamor is an activist in Unite the Union and the Labour Party

May Day – a day to reflect on what workers have won and to focus on the future fight

1 May
Workers, Unite!
by Hannah Blythyn
Today is international workers day or May Day as it is often more commonly known here – a day that will witness rallies and marches around the world. Events that take on special significance across Europe as unions, grass-roots groups and the public gather together to call time on the economic agenda of austerity that is making working people and the most vulnerable pay the highest price.
At home and abroad workers are facing the biggest battles and challenges of a generation – from cuts to the public sector to attacks on employment rights.
Here in the UK, the coalition government is hell-bent on chipping away at health and safety protection, with Cameron declaring that his new year’s resolution was to kill of health and safety culture for good.
But the Prime Minister does not live in the real world nor does he have any experience of a real workplace. The reality is that to kill off health and safety at work would result in more workers being killed whilst just doing their job – even with the protections we currently have around 20,000 people die every year in the UK as a result of their work.
This clampdown on health and safety is part of a wider attack on workers’ rights by the coalition government – from rolling back the right to access unfair dismissal, to right-wing Tory assaults on trade union facility time and introducing charges for taking cases to employment tribunals.
This Conservative led coalition government has even gone as far as to previously suggest that the May Day bank holiday be moved – making their feelings on workers’ rights all too clear.
But it also right that on this day we take time to reflect and commemorate all that has been achieved by the trade unions for working people – the weekend, statutory paid holidays, the national minimum wage, health and safety legislation and much, much more.
We know that there are tough times and great fights ahead but lest us not forget on today of all days that we have won in the past and together we will win for working people in the future.
Are you marking May Day 2012?
If you are taking part in any May Day activity this coming weekend or know of any events near you then let us know and we’ll make sure we give you a mention.

Union Solidarity International launches tomorrow

30 Apr

by Amy Jackson

Union Solidarity International, a brand new initiative to build links with trade unions and other organisations across the world, symbolically launches on Labour Day tomorrow. Using online tools and communication, USI aims to ‘ encourage links with trade unions and other organisations across the world based on thematic issues such as the financial crisis, global supply chains, industrial disputes, tax evasion and off-shoring providing a social-media glue for participating trade unions and networked organisations.’ As USI states on it’s website, ‘Trade unions know that it is increasingly difficult to maintain a strong media presence against the backdrop of the current economic, social and political conditions. New media give us an opportunity to bypass traditional media and speak directly with people with an interest in our point of view.’

Supporters of USI include major British trade unions such as Unite, GFTU, Thompson’s Solicitors, RMT and GMB. USI also has the official support of a number of Greek unions, such as UCBF, SEETH, SYPAM, and the  Network of Precarious Workers and Unemployed. Their General Secretaries have offered their full support. Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite said, ‘Unite is proud to support USi. I believe it has the potential to involve trade unionists all over the world through social media. Unite looks forward to strengthening our internationalism with USi and it has our full support.’ 

In a time where trade unions and workers are being attacked by austerity drives across the world, organisations like USI are seriously in demand. Despite the fact USI doesn’t officially launch until tomorrow, they are not wasting any time. Campaigns are already under way, with issues ranging from ‘Solidarity with Greece’, domestic workers and brick kiln workers in India.

Our congratulations to USI for what promises to be an exciting and valuable contribution to the union movement, building grassroots international union solidarity.

You can join up to USI here, and follow them on Twitter at @USILive.

USI Live

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