Last night a joint planning meeting of anti-cuts groups and unions was held in Horsforth to discuss co-ordinated action to support the November 30th (N30) Strike. Over 20 were in attendance with members of Aireborough and Horsforth Socialist Party, Youth Fight For Jobs (YFJ) members, Horforth Against The Cuts (HATC), Teachers, Lecturers, and NHS workers were all in attendance as well as members of UCU, Unison, PCS and Leeds Trinity Student Union.
Harriet Bairstow, Aireborough and Horsforth Socialist Party
Joel of HATC opened the meeting by asking what each group in attendance could do to support N30 and how we can co-ordinate this action. Several members of HATC called for a public meeting on 24th November aimed at members of the public and students who want to understand the reasons for going on strike but may not be currently involved in community or political groups. Socialist Party member and Leeds Trinity Union womens officer, Tanis Belsham-Wray suggested the meeting be held at Leeds Trinity in order to draw in support from existing student campaigns and to highlight lecturing and support staff as some of the hardest hit by the government’s pension plans. There was consensus among the group that the meeting would act as an informal education evening focusing not only on the issue of pensions but what the cuts mean locally and nationally and crucially; the government’s fundamental motivation which is to pave the way for privatisation.
The public meeting hosted by anti-cuts groups from Horsforth will be held on 24th November at 7pm, in the Auditorium at Leeds Trinity University College. All welcome.
The meeting then discussed ways to publicise the public meeting. A member of HATC said it was important to produce a flyer to not only advertise the public meeting but to give as much information as possible about the strikes to those unable to attend the meeting, in order to counter the government’s false argument. The meeting also decided to hold joint stalls on Horsforth Town Street in the run up to N30, after previous success of stalls by HATC. TUSC candidate for Horsforth Andy Smith called for support from Leeds Trinity students and union members. Andy proposed stalls on campus to publicise the meeting to students and also gain support for staff, some of who will be on the picket line on the morning of N30.
Socialist Party, YFJ activist and Jarrow marcher Stephanie Maston, highlighted the implications of the government’s attempt to increase the retirement age on the unemployed youth and stressed the importance of uniting youth and unemployed with workers. A Unison steward from Leeds Trinity University College consolidated this by suggesting we use a catchphrase on our flyer, “Why you are working longer to keep your son or daughter out of a job” in order to appeal to parents, young unemployed and students in the area.
Everyone in attendance discussed the potential of N30 to be the biggest co-ordinated action in Britain since the 1926 general strike. A Unison steward pointed out that 245,358 Unison members had voted for the strike while only 70,253 had voted against. While the cabinet officer minister had previously claimed the 29% turnout showed “extremely limited” support, the voting ratio in fact shows a large amount of support that will probably be replicated by other unions. Representatives from UCU and PCS also added they were positive their unions would be voting for strike.
With agreement in place regarding the need for support, the main consensus reached was on the necessity to remove the isolation of the people going on strike. There will be a continuous stream of misinformation from the capitalist media and it is the responsibility of every member of the Horsforth community and every other community to support the Nov 30th strike and deal with this misinformation, the best way the rank and file know how. While the press will be involved in this locally, the stalls, the public meetings and the essential calls to arms are reminiscent of the anti-poll tax unions from the 80s, where communities of working class people united to demand fairer treatment of everyone.