OVER 100 trade unionists, workers and youth attended the News Line – All Trades Unions Alliance meeting in Red Lion Square in Central London on Sunday afternoon.
ASLEF branch officer and North East London Council of Action secretary Bill Rogers opened the meeting saying: ‘The situation has qualitatively changed… Royal Mail wants to sack thousands of workers in the London area. The NHS is being privatised.
‘The US government has pumped trillions into banking while the working class is being made to pay for the crisis.
‘In the US half a million are being thrown out of work each month, millions are being thrown out of their homes, and the situation in this country is no different.
‘We need to replace those trade union leaders who are not going to fight.
‘Trade union leaders like Woodley and Simpson, who would rather march with the bosses, have to go!’
All Trades Unions Alliance National Secretary, Dave Wiltshire, said: ‘‘The world has turned upside down in the last year. Huge international banks like Lehmann brothers have just gone down.
‘General Motors – the largest manufacturer in the world – is technically and legally bankrupt. It is the same with Ford, Chrysler and Saab – they will just close.
‘There are no green shoots of recovery. There is no way out for them.
‘Yesterday at the Unite demonstration in Birmingham 5,000 marched.
‘They didn’t mobilise for it, if they had there would have been hundreds of thousands marching.
‘Unite leader Woodley called on banks to free up funds for short-time subsidies. The slogans were to subsidise short-time working.
‘They marched alongside Digby Jones, the ex-CBI (Confederation of British Industry) leader, who recently, sitting alongside Tony Woodley, said that all those still in work should go on a two day week on subsistence pay.
‘They dream of people being paid just enough to be able to drag themselves into work and Woodley nodded in agreement!
‘Woodley and Simpson see their role as partners to ailing industry.
‘At Gate Gourmet, when 800 were sacked by megaphone, Woodley negotiated a rotten compromise deal, leaving the workers outside.
‘At Visteon, Woodley gave the guarantee that the workers would end their occupation.
‘These trade union leaders have the outlook that Capitalism is the only game, they shed crocodile tears when they deliver statistics, like TUC leader Barber, when he said that unemployment stands at two and a half million and will be three million by the end of the year.
‘But what are they going to do about it! Pressure is building up into a general strike in this country, workers have shown time and again that they will fight, but the leadership is doing all it can to hold it back.
‘What is needed above all is leadership. We are in the most favourable times in history for the workers to take the power. We are for a general strike to bring down this government and for a workers government.’
The next speaker was Hengride Permal the leader of the Chagos Island Community Association she said: ‘The British government took our island, forced us out, and gave the islands to the US, more then forty years ago, and put us in the slums of Mauritius.
‘The British government has been unfair all the way through. We took the case to the courts and we won the case but the government appealed, we won again and they appealed again.
‘Finally, we lost in the House of Lords. We have to fight for our rights!’
‘We have to fight and we have to plan. Things happen with good planning.
‘We won’t accept the House of Lords ruling. We have called a National Demonstration through London on the 3rd of October and we are demanding our rights to go back and compensation.’
Unite member and Vauxhall worker at the General Motors IBC plant in Luton, Ken Spring said: ‘At IBC they keep doing down days and the workers don’t know what is going on. Management are trying to keep things undercover. But we are going to put up a fight to keep this plant open.’
Gate Gourmet locked out worker, Lakhinder Saran said: ‘I am pleased to speak to so many different sections of workers and to tell them what happened to us.
‘On the 10th August 2005 the union leaders knew that Gate Gourmet were bringing in casual workers that morning, but they absented themselves and hundreds of us were sacked.
‘Then the T&G leaders made an agreement but we refused to sign, the compromise deal. We are angry at the ruthless bosses and our union leaders.
‘Many of us have not worked since we were sacked, some of us have lost their homes.
‘We want union leaders that defend their members and fight the bosses.’
BMA council member Anna Athow said: ‘We have a privatising state in Britain. PCT (Primary Care Trusts) are actually telling GPs not to refer patients to hospitals. The state is actually encouraging privatisation.’
‘ISTC (Independent Sector Treatment Centres) are not properly regulated.
‘These private, stand-alone units are dangerous.
‘The latest attack is to put these ISTCs right in th middle of a general hospital. The Darzi plan is to replace all GP surgeries with 150 Polyclinics.
‘At the centre of privatisation is the mass closure of hospitals.’
Athow concluded by calling on everyone: ‘Join the march on June 6th to keep Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield open.’
Peckham CWU rep, postal worker Billy Colvill said: 16,000 members in London are being balloted this week for strike action. We are facing unprecedented attacks.
‘Management are ripping up existing contracts, no job is safe!
‘In my view this pay freeze is not for this year, it is for life.
‘The Hayes-Ward leadership has to resign. The problem of leadership in the CWU won’t go away.
‘We were told by the Hayes-Ward leadership that this Labour government would not privatise us.
‘We are going into a fight, but we can have no faith in our present leaders.
‘Let us build a leadership in our union that is not going to put the interests of the bankers and the bosses first.’
Speaking for the Tamil community in Britain Kugan said: ‘For the past 40 or so days we have demonstrated outside Parliament. In Sri Lanka, thousands of people are dying everyday.
‘We are calling for support from the trade unions in Britain.
News Line editor Paddy O’Regan was the final speaker he said: ‘The system has completely broken down.
‘It is an historic crisis.
‘The banks are busted-industries are folding up, people are now beginning to understand that their lives as they knew them are over.
‘For workers whose jobs go, their houses go and their families are next.
‘In Britain, between 50,000 and 70,000 families are going to lose their homes each year. Millions are losing their homes in America.
‘In the US, in the parks in each city there is a Tent City, millions of US workers are in that situation.
‘The whole of society is being revolutionised. Chrysler has gone bankrupt, on June 1st General Motors will be going the same way.
‘General Motors has already approached Obama to ask if it can close factories in America, and use taxpayers’ money to build plants in and import cars from China.
‘US workers will not accept this and will remove any union leaders who are willing to accept this.
‘Workers will defend their jobs and occupy their plants.
‘They will demand that they be nationalised. They will break with the Democrats, build a Labour Party and turn to socialism.
‘As this crisis deepens workers will be fighting for their lives. We are going to see big occupations. The whole working class across Europe is awakening, there is going to be a big political leap to revolutionary action.
‘In Britain, all the Brown government cares about is the bankers.
‘The government is bringing in 20% health cuts over the next four years. They are privatising the NHS and the Royal Mail. They are taking the cap off University fees. They are going to load the entire cost of the crisis onto the working class.
‘To maintain the banks and capitalism they intend to destroy the Welfare State, and the historic compromise between the classes that emerged after 1948 when the bosses seemed to accept the Welfare State as permanent.
‘But a settlement of accounts is coming in this country, a historic struggle to decide which class is going to pay for the crisis.
‘The defence of the Welfare State will bring revolution to Britain.
‘The working class has the right to defend its jobs. It has the right to organise a general strike to bring down the Brown government to go forward to a workers government an socialism.
‘The working class of the world is on the move and a revolutionary period is opening up. They are weak, while the working class is strong but lacks the necessary revolutionary leadership.
‘It is this leadership that has to be built on a world scale, through the building of the Fourth International.
‘Forward to a Socialist Britain and a Socialist world!
‘Banish capitalism to the museum of history!’