I had been asked to speak by "Public Services Not Private Profit" but it was also an excellent opportunity to promote UNISON's work to defend public services.
I was pleased also to share the platform with speakers from the GMB and Defend Council Housing (and disappointed that Manuel from TSSA was detained at ACAS and couldn't make it).
The meeting concluded by agreeing to launch a local anti-cuts campaign with an initial planning meeting to take place on next Wednesday's European TUC Day of Action.
I was encouraged to hear from a UNISON friend and comrade that this was just one of a series of such meetings organised by Trades Councils across the Eastern Region. All being well these will lead to a positive and effective Regional demonstration in Cambridge on Saturday 23 October, arrangements for which were (the meeting was told) being finalised.
It seems that in towns and cities (and London Boroughs) across the country local anti-cuts campaigns are springing up. Our movement is stirring.
Chelmsford Trades Council was founded in 1899 at a time when a labour movement smaller, weaker and poorer than we are today faced imperialism without a political party - and with only half of workers (men) having the vote. Yet from that low base our movement built the Welfare State.
When you consider the achievements of those who came before us you realise that we must live up to them and must accept the challenge set to our generation to defend the social gains of the last century. Meetings like this evening reinforce my belief that we can do this.
I think the TUC are right to be in discussions with the Royal Parks about the venue for the rally at the end of the demonstration likely to take place on Saturday 26 March - Trafalgar Square won't be big enough.
What impressed me most of all this evening was the non-sectarian attitude of the many contributors from the floor. The Trades Council officers were relaxed and enthusiastic about participation from diverse political perspectives and those who had already kicked off some local organising (members of the Socialist Workers Party) were eager to put the work they had done into the hands of the trades unions.
(Readers in Lambeth should take note of that last paragraph!)
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