GMB delegates met this week in Plymouth for its annual conference. A motion in favour of a general strike – moved by Socialist Appeal supporter Ben Kirkham – was passed unaimously.
GMB delegates met this week in Plymouth for its annual conference. On Monday 3rd June, the conference discussed the question of a 24-hour general strike. This flows from the discussion at last year’s TUC conference and at various trade union conferences since.
Ben Kirkham, a supporter of Socialist Appeal, moved Composite 14 at the conference, calling for the GMB to support the demand for a one-day general strike. The motion was passed unanimously.
The idea for a 24-hour general strike is clearly gaining momentum, with others large trade unions, such as Unite, also supporting the call. Such action would be a huge step forward for the labour movement, helping to galvanise the fight back against the hated coalition government, and demonstrating the tremendous power that workers have when united.
This motion must act as a spur to the trade union leaders, who must set a date for a one-day general strike.
Below is a copy of the composite and of Ben’s speech.
Composite 14 GENERAL STRIKE
We demand the right to withdraw our labour as our fellow trade unionists can in the EU. To accept the attacks on our living standards without increasing our resistance will only lead to the government continuing unabated in removing the gains the trade union movement has made through the years.
This Congress 2013 agrees to support the growing call for a one day general strike in response to the destruction of jobs and services and the wholesale attacks on working class living standards we are enduring from this Tory/Liberal Coalition Government. We do understand the difficulty that this would mean because of the anti-trade union law that was brought into place by the Thatcher government and continued under Labour.
This Conference calls upon the Central Executive Council to work with all trade unions to organise a general strike. We say enough is enough and believe we should now be applying maximum pressure within the TUC to name the day.
Speech by Ben Kirkham
Owen Jones said that he saw no shortage of angry people in Britain.; He’s right – I’m one of them.
Congress, we have a responsibility to ourselves and those out there in Britain to channel this anger!
We are seeing the destruction of jobs and services, and with it those in work face attacks on their pay and conditions.
For the last five years Britain’s unemployed and working poor have faced the implications of what the Con-Dems ideological attacks are all about. There are already insufficient benefits, which have been cut further. The disabled have found themselves subject to demeaning and invasive work capability assessments. The low paid have seen real term wages cut. Further welfare reforms are been rolled out, whilst those who rely on benefits are continually demonised.
Enough is enough! It is time to demand the TUC name the date; this is long overdue!
The need to co-ordinate a 24 hour general strike is here. In recognising the threat posed by anti-union laws, we, the GMB, need to be brave and direct in our own actions.
Unite insist the action would be legal under European Human Rights. They have got legal advice!
But the real threat is the threat we face as trade unions: that of decline if we are not seen as fighting bodies.
Support is vital!
The NUT and NASUWT have called the TUC to consider calling a 24 hour strike. The PCS have indicated it would join others in national action, however, the response has been lukewarm at best!
Unite argue that it would be “desirable” and urged the TUC to “prepare for such mass industrial action.” The Unite document correctly says “it would be a landmark in our movement’s recovery of its morale, strength and capacity to play a leading part in a society, crying out for credible and honourable leadership.”
Unison back the principles of a general strike. Even the Prison Officers Association, who was denied the right to strike, have defied the law on two previous walkouts; neither served with injunctions.
In July 1972, five clock workers were arrested under these anti-trade union laws; the government took fright and released the “Pentonville Five.” That was the last time talk of National co-ordinated action has been discussed.
The Prison Officers Association General Secretary, Steve Gillan, moved the motion for a General Strike at TUC Congress! This was in favour!
Senior Tory Ministers are enraged by the threat of a 24 hour general strike. Well let them be!
Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman, said “Labours single bigger union paymaster is threatening British Business’ and hard- working people with mass strikes.”
LET’S NOT BE PUT OFF BY SUCH BLUSTER!
After the successes of the two major rallies, co-ordinated by the TUC, it is imperative that the Labour movement follow these successes with further action.
The call has come for the GMB NOT to be left behind, and I urge Congress to back the call for a 24 hour strike!
Congress: 90 years ago this year (and I make no apologies for name-dropping!) My great, great aunt Margaret Bondfield was Chair of the TUC General Council, and with the 1926 General Strike looming, the former secretary of the Shop Assistant Union and 1908 secretary of the Labour League, would indeed been a great believer if she was present today to listen to our call.
I shall repeat what others have already said: The TUC need to get over the fear factor and do what needs to be done.
NAME THAT DAY!
Congress, Comrades, please support this motion and Owen Jones will get his revenge!