LARGE numbers of TUC delegates in Brighton yesterday stopped at the 60-strong WRP and Young Socialists lobby to say that they want the TUC to ‘fight for Brexit now’.
Paul Reilly, RMT National Executive Midlands Rep, told News Line: ‘Our delegation voted against the pro-EU motion that the TUC passed on Sunday.
‘We want out of the EU for our members. Our conference decision was to exit the EU and its got to happen.’
The lobby kept up lively chants of ‘TUC get off your knees call a general strike’; ‘No cuts no closures kick this government out’; ‘Free Assange now’; and ‘Leave the EU now. Call a general strike’.
Tonya Jones told News Line ‘We must get on with Brexit, get out now. I am a Remainer and I’d like to stay in, but it’s not going to happen. Parliament will never agree to Brexit, so the trade unions will have to take action to get us out. I work for the Co-op and I want retail staff to be able to strike. Now’s the time for revolution, I’m there for it.’
Helen O’Neill, Brighton Unite, said: ‘We want Brexit now, no more delay and there should be a general strike now to get it.’
Clinton McRee, South-East London Unite, Croydon, said: I voted for Brexit in 1975 and 2016. I didn’t see any difference. The Labour Party has gone totally Europhile and that is not good for the country. I can’t understand how they can say the 27 EU countries means internationalism given that there are about 200 members of the UN.’
Joe Simpson, Deputy General Secretary of the Prison Officers Association, said: We haven’t got a policy on the EU as a trade union, but my position is that the people have said they want out and so it’s got to happen.
‘Our union has a position for a general strike against austerity and to get rid of the Tories. It’s still on the table and we always make reference to it.
‘Our prison system is in absolute chaos, understaffed, under-resourced and undervalued. It endangers our members and society as a whole. I joined in 1987 when there were 40,000 prisoners, now there are 86,000.’
Ronnie Draper, General Secretary of the Bakers union, said: ‘Our position hasn’t changed, we are in favour of Brexit and a good deal for workers.’
Kenneth Smith, Liverpool Unite, said: ‘We want Brexit now and the TUC must fight for it.’
Dave Calfe, ASLEF president, said: ‘The referendum should be respected and there shouldn’t be a second referendum. We want a general election.’
Louise Atkinson, Cumbria NEU, said: The education cuts are absolutely horrific. The money the government has promised takes us nowhere near where we were ten years ago. We are in absolutely desperate times. This government has destroyed a generation.’
James McGuinness, Dundee Unite, said: ‘I was a Leave veteran and the Labour 2017 manifesto was to renationalise railways and utilities and we have to get out of the EU to achieve that. Whether you voted Leave or or Remain, from the day of the referendum we must be out. The TUC is a toothless tiger.’
Evelyn Martin, North London GMB, said: ‘Get it over with, it’s going on too long, it’s madness. We want Brexit now and the Tories out. If we have to have a general strike so be it. If you have no other choice then that’s it.’
Ariya Rabbani, one of a three-strong delegation from the Julian Assange Defence Committee, said: ‘We want the TUC to fight for Julian Assange’s freedom, he hasn’t commited any crime apart from doing journalism. He is a hero for anyone who cares about freedom of speech.
‘He’s suffering greatly, in solitary confinement 21-hours a day. He doesn’t have access to his lawyers or a computer, so he can’t prepare his case for his extradition hearing in February.
‘He is being treated worse than a murderer, simply because he revealed all the heinous crimes and all the corruption of governments around the world.’