Friday, 18 February 2011

National Shop Stewards Network: Resigning in slow motion!

THE clock is ticking, and with the next steering committee of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) called by the national committee overwhelmingly dominated by the Socialist Party under secretary, Linda Taaffe, scheduled for next Sunday, some NSSN dissidents are certainly taking their time at formally handing in their resignations. Formal resignations are now into double figures on the steering committee of 60+, but probably less than one would expect at this stage given the level of feeling among the Socialist Party's opponents on the steering committee after the NSSN conference on 22nd January, at which it was generally agreed that the Socialist Party pocketed the ball. The anarchist fortnightly, FREEDOM last week claimed that 'the majority of NSSN/Shop Steward Network national officers - all of those not in the Socialist Party - resigned their positions.' The officers may have resigned their posts but as yet not all non-Socialist Party members of the NSSN steering committee have resigned and the Socialist Workers' Party members have said that they will stay in until at least till next Sunday's meeting before making a final decision.

At the time of this post it may be that not all the syndicalists and anarcho-syndicalists have resigned. From those who have resigned, including Dave Chapple (Chair), George Binette (Treasurer), Bob Archer (Publicity), Becca Kilpatrick (NSSN Affiliation's Officer) Pete Firmin, Brian Bamford, Keir Lawson, Stu Melvin, Glyn Harries, Emy Castlelao, Jamie Beamont, Chris Leary, Helen Steel, Gerry Downing, a statement is expected shortly.

Freedom in its report said: '(Those) 89 who voted against the (Socialist Party) walked out of the meeting and reconvened in a nearby pub where discussions were held on the next step, deciding unanimously to continue the work of trade union activists' solidarity on an organised national basis, with syndicalists, rightly, insisting that any new network would never again fall under the leadership of a single political party.' In fact, there may have been more than 89 at this post-conference meeting because some at the conference didn't have delegate status and were present as observers. Some of the syndicalists met in Birmingham two weeks ago to consider the position and it is expected that a general meeting of all opponents of the Socialist Party will be pondering the options in the near future.

1 comment:

Charlie Pottins said...

I don't know about all 89 who voted against the SP resolution reconvening at the pub, I was a delegate from Brent TUC and voted against (as mandated) but didn't know about the meeting afterwards so didn't attend.
Remembering how the SP walked out of the Socialist Alliance when the SWP got a majority, I found it ironic that they charged others with wanting to take their ball away when they didn't like a decision. I was also amused to hear an SP member in Unison complain that the SWP and others had backed a "Labour Party supporter" in preference to him in union elections, when exactly the same charge could be levelled at the SP members in my own union, Unite, who voted for Len McCluskey rather than Jerry Hicks. I remarked on this to Jerry when I saw him later in the meeting, I think he too had found it amusing.
Anyway, the SP's move seems to have gone as I anticipated, despite their success in mobilising an overwhelming vote majority, they are left holding a hollow victory. Instead of creating a unified anti-cuts movement under their leadership they have succeeded in splitting the National Shop Stewards Network.
It will be ironic if the SWP who were the main butts of their denunciations are the only ones to stay. And if after such fierce denunciation they can try to erect some facade of unity for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (assuming that's still on).
Meanwhile back on the cuts front I am sure a united movement is emerging in each locality, usually centred on trades councils and community campaigners, and from what I can see, SP members and SWPers alike are like the rest of us, being drawn into working class activity without worrying about the empire-building rivalry which pre-occupies leaders of sects.