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Wednesday 15 September 2021

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Unite, the Bakers' union, People's Budget campaigning: a busy autumn ahead

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) All-Britain Steering Committee met on September 8th to gear-up for a busy autumn of activity - against the backdrop of important new developments towards our coalition's core objective of achieving a new vehicle for workers' political representation.

Foremost was the announcement - days before the meeting - of the election of Sharon Graham as the new general secretary of Unite, with the commitment from her election campaign for a new 'Workers' Politics'. This includes a pledge to oppose bad employers by every means available, including local authority employers regardless of the party they represent.

The steering committee endorsed a draft letter from the TUSC chair Dave Nellist - to go to all members of the Unite executive council - expressing his sympathy with her disgust with Westminster parliamentary 'parlour games'; "as someone who was elected as a Labour MP from 1983 to 1992 on the pledge to be A Workers' MP on a Worker's Wage".

An invitation was extended to the executive members to join with TUSC - in whatever capacity is possible - in the debate now so clearly necessary in the trade union movement on what needs to be done to fight back both industrially and politically in the challenging new era of the Covid crisis and its aftermath.

The Bakers' union and Starmer's New Labour

The meeting also heard from a member of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) executive council, Dumitru Manole, who has recently joined the TUSC steering committee in a personal capacity.

Following the receipt of an auto-expulsion letter from the Labour Party HQ by the president of the BFAWU, Ian Hodson, the union's executive has decided to recall their conference with the sole agenda item on whether the BFAWU - a founder union of the Labour Party along with an RMT predecessor union - should remain affiliated or not.

The union executive members were clear that "an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us" and that they would "stand in absolute solidarity with our elected national president".

The recall conference is scheduled for September 28th, the day of Starmer's speech to the Labour Party conference, and the result and its implications will be discussed widely in the movement, including at our next steering committee.

People's Budget campaigning

The steering committee is asking all TUSC groups, individual members, and affiliated organisations to consider organising campaigns for a local People's Budget for their council area (see https://www.tusc.org.uk/17546/17-06-2021/tusc-committee-makes-call-for-local-peoples-budget-campaigns).

As society moves on from a Covid-crisis footing, a local People's Budget campaign could play an important role in bringing together trade union branches, campaign groups and community organisations to fight at a council level for what communities will need in the 'new normal' - not the cuts to public services that Tory policies will inevitably demand.

A new Organising for a People's Budget Campaign Pack, agreed at the September steering committee, provides model material, letters of invitation and campaign tips to allow every local group, or even just an individual TUSC member in a particular council area, to get cracking.

It is available both as a PDF at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/451.pdf and in Word format (at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/452.doc) to allow adaptations to be made to fit the requirements of local campaigns.

Election planning: leaflet & agents' briefing on October 27th

Campaigning for a local People's Budget could form the basis of a vibrant electoral challenge in the council elections scheduled for May 2022, in the areas which have them (see the TUSC directory of the 2022 elections at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/448.pdf for a list).

To step up election preparations the steering committee agreed to produce a 'Register to vote' leaflet for local groups to use in their activity, providing information on how to register to vote but also appealing for candidates to come forward. It is presently available to download as a PDF - at https://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/453.pdf - with printed copies available for order later this month from the Resources page on the TUSC website.

And lastly, the steering committee agreed to organise a national zoom briefing meeting for prospective local TUSC election agents for the evening of Wednesday 27th October. Details will be posted soon on the Events page on the TUSC website.

In the meantime details of any likely local election agents in 2022 should be sent to the TUSC National Election Agent, Clive Heemskerk, at [email protected]