20 Jun 2009

NSSN’s 3rd Annual Conference, London, Saturday 27th June:

NSSN’s 3rd Annual Conference, London, Saturday 27th June:
if you are an elected union rep or activist, see you there!

The third annual conference of the NSSN/National Shop Stewards Network will be held in King’s Cross, London, on Saturday June 27th. Once again 200 plus trade union reps from all over will meet to discuss current trade union movement problems, plan how to strengthen our movement at all levels, and, last but not least, be inspired by some of the best speakers thrown up by current campaigns, struggles and strikes.

Founded at a Conference called by the RMT in October 2006, the NSSN is proving its worth as a solidarity network. Workers in construction, car manufacture, local government, the Civil Service, Royal Mail, universities, schools, and most other sectors, use the NSSN to promote their union’s best policies, establish new contacts within their own union, advertise marches, rallies, and of course picket lines. The NSSN is working for workers!

The NSSN is NOT an exclusive body with an old-fashioned sounding name that turns its back on the new and the young: far from it! Every NSSN Conference, including this one, will have special workshop sessions on women workers, young workers and migrant workers: many of these will be the elected reps, Branch Officers, and Regional/National leaders of the next generation. What the NSSN offers all trades union activists is a forum that encourages and promotes the idea that we are a movement that cannot move unless we progress together: reps and activists from different unions all united in a common purpose.

The NSSN is in its short life far from limiting itself to a minority pressure group, though we have not shied away from supporting those reps who, sadly, have been victimised by their own union. The NSSN is also far from unofficial: how can it be unofficial, when the PCS is affiliated, the CWU, RMT, FBU, NUJ and others, officially supportive! We are fast becoming a recognised PART of our movement, capable of both promoting the best trade union ideas and criticising the worst ones, and what is important, having these decisions respected.

NSSN activists are often trades council activists: the groundwork for the re-introduction of trades councils into the Trades Union Congress, after a hiatus of 113 years, was laid by NSSN activists in Somerset and Merseyside. Here and there, NSSN trades council delegates have also helped to set up new trades councils and re-establish dormant ones. Small wonder then, that retired and unemployed workers who are bona fide trades council delegates from their Branch, are welcome activists in the NSSN.

NSSN Conference 2009 will confirm that the whole of England, Scotland and Wales have now had founding SSN Conferences, or working networks, or both. London recently held a successful Organising Conference; car workers have come together under NSSN auspices in Southampton, South Wales and Birmingham; while in contrast Scotland is currently struggling, despite two successful conferences in 2007/8 that managed to unite some very fractious left-wing tendencies. Scottish trades unionists please note!

In contrast, the North East Shop Stewards Network, already successfully devolved between Newcastle and Middlesborough, has reached a position where it may become the moving part of the working class in that region. Working-class education in the broadest sense is being discussed within the NSSN: publishing ideas include a shop-stewards history; a strikers/’troublemakers’ handbook; and the lessons of the old Plebs League, this last a fascinating subject that is having its first airing for a generation at RMT Conference 2009.

The NSSN, in Scotland but also everywhere else, has also shown that it can genuinely unite socialists with a party political affiliation-including the Labour Party- and those without. Of course left-wing tensions do exist, among the ten national officers and 50 strong National Steering Committee , nominated from the floor and endorsed at Annual Conference: however, what trade union is without political tensions? The NSSN CAN overcome these problems: I know, I chair the meetings!

During the last two years, officers and committee have achieved a genuine consensus that for the NNSN to develop to its next stage, should involve passing from an organisation largely made up of the already-politically-committed. We seek to develop with the NSSN a vibrant movement that brings together the brightest and angriest workers from all the unions, and , via their own internal democracies, transform them so that they are capable of leaving the deals and compromises well behind, and start to WIN lasting working-class victories.......which are also, of course, political victories.

NSSSN Conference 2009 is held at South Camden Community School, Charrington St, London WC1, 11am to 4.30pm, Saturday 27th June. Delegates/visitors £5, Branch donations affiliations £20: see you there!

For a speakers programme, workshop details and agenda contact:

Dave Chapple
Chair, NSSN Steering Committee
CWU Local Rep and Chair, CWU Bristol Branch
Tel. 01278 450562
c/o Unity House, 39 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD
website: HYPERLINK "http://www.shopstewards.net" www.shopstewards.net email HYPERLINK "mailto:info@shopstewards.net" info@shopstewards.net
Chair Dave Chapple, CWU, HYPERLINK "mailto:davechapple@btinternet.com" davechapple@btinternet.com
Secretary Linda Taafe, NUT, HYPERLINK "mailto:linda.taafe@wfnut.org" linda.taafe@wfnut.org
Co-organisers Ray Morell, UNITE, HYPERLINK "mailto:raymondmorell@yahoo.com" raymondmorell@yahoo.com
Bill Mullins, NUJ, HYPERLINK "mailto:billmullins@capitalh.org.uk" billmullins@capitalh.org.uk

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