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JOINT STATEMENT Uniting the trade union left

Groups in five unions are working together to build unity, write Alex Gordon (RMT Broad Left), Matt Gould (United Left in Unite), Libby Nolan & Andrea Egan (Time for Real Change in Unison), Lucy Coleman & Phil Clarke (NEU Left) Fran Heathcote & Martin Cavanagh (PCS Left Unity)

OVER the past year, Britain has been racked by a cost-of-living crisis which has seen working-class living standards plummet while profits go through the roof.

This is an economic crisis in which wealth is being directly transferred from the vast majority of the population to the super-rich — and the key to fighting back and protecting working-class communities is action on pay.

As socialists and trade unionists, we believe that militant, co-ordinated, union action is needed to protect workers in the workplace, to have a voice in society, and to push back against 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 five 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, co-ordinated 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 trade 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 three decades. 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 trade unions in the Tories’ Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act.

This is another Act in a long line which seeks to restrict trade union activity, restrict protest and silence organisations and opposition.

The trade union movement must lead opposition to the implementation of this Act, going beyond lobbying and legal challenges.

We call on reps, activists and members across the trade union movement to join us at 6.30pm this evening in the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool to discuss how we build the co-ordination that is needed across our movement.

You can sign up to the statement at Tinyurl.com/OrganiseTheLeft.

We need to build together, we need to work together, we need to fight together.

Launch rally: Where next for Fighting Unions? Organising the Left, 6.30pm September 12, at the Adelphi Hotel, Ranelagh Street, Liverpool L3 5UL.

Speakers: Richard Burgon MP, John McDonnell MP, Daniel Kebede (NEU general secretary), Libby Nolan (Unison president), Alex Gordon (RMT president), Fran Heathcote (PCS president), Matt Gould (Unite EC), Holly Turner (NHS Workers Say No).

In association with Arise Festival of Left Ideas.

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