Building fighting unions – Organising the Left #TUC23


“The left groups in 5 unions – NEU Left; PCS Left Unity; RMT Broad Left; Unison Time for Real Change; and Unite United Left – have come together to call for a united trade union left.”

Below we reproduce a joint statement from the left groups in 5 unions on why we need to build together, work together and fight together:

“As socialists and trade unionists we believe that militant, coordinated, union action is needed to protect workers in the workplace, to have a voice in society, and to push back this rotten government’s plans for working people and for those that rely on public services. The best way to build effective campaigns is to organise and work together.

That is why the left groups in 5 unions – NEU Left; PCS Left Unity; RMT Broad Left; Unison Time for Real Change; and Unite United Left – have come together to call for a united trade union left. Our groups are made up of reps, activists and campaigners within our respective unions and include a wide range of political views within the left.

Our shared aims are:

– To determine how we build a united, coordinated struggle of workers to defend our services, our living standards, and our rights.

– To link up militants within the trade union movement.

– To encourage left organisations within unions.

– To build co-ordination between union left organisations, and across the left in the trades union movement. 

We want to bring together union militants who recognise that building workplace organisation and union strength is more important than recruiting to left parties, and that action achieves more than slogans. The scale of the crisis facing us means that there is no place for sectarianism in our movement. We respect the independence of each union and union left group.

Over the last year we have had the biggest wave of strikes in over 30 years. Workers on the buses, on rail, workers in the NHS and education, in the civil service, bin workers, dock workers, postal workers, and others, have all been on strike against real terms pay cuts. This has involved co-ordinated action by some unions and yet too often industrial action strategies are developed in isolation. It takes co-ordination across the left to bring our movement to act together.

We now face, on top of pay cuts and cuts to services, the threat to trades unions in the Tories’ Minimum Service Levels Bill. This is another Bill in a long line which seek to restrict trade union activity, restrict protest and silence organisations and opposition. The trades union movement must lead opposition to this Bill, going beyond lobbying and legal challenges.

We need to BUILD together, we need to WORK together, we need to FIGHT together.

We call on reps, activists and members across the trade union movement to sign up to this statement and join our launch rally in Liverpool on 12th September.”

  • Where next for fighting unions? Organising the Left, Launch Rally: 6.30pm, 12th September 2023, Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. Speakers include: John McDonnell MP, Daniel Kebede (General Secretary, NEU), Libby Nolan (President Unison), Alex Gordon (RMT President), Fran Heathcote (President PCS), Matt Gould (Unite EC), Richard Burgon MP, Holly Turner (NHS Workers Say No. In association with Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas. Register here.
Featured image: Pensions Regulator strikers demonstrate in Brighton on September 5th, 2023. Photo credit: PCS Union/Twitter

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