CLASS WAR: FIRST ACTION IN BARROW
At 5pm on Monday 13th September, Furness trade unionists met at the GMB union's offices in Hartington Street, Barrow, to consider the strategy for mounting local defence of public services. Community groups had also been invited to attend.
Unfortunately, shortly before the start of the meeting, Northern TUC co-ordinator for South Cumbria, full-time Unison officer Deborah Hamilton, sent word that she was unable to attend. This clearly caused full-time GMB official, Steven Forbes, some anxiety for he exclaimed he had been "Dropped in the doo-doo." Fortunately, pensioners attending the meeting were able to advise him to accept suggestions from people present so that a plan of campaign could be drawn up.
There was a further delay to the business of the meeting when Mr Forbes announced that some GMB members had expressed their objection to the attendance of Steven Smart as he was a member of the Conservative Party. As a trade unionist (NUT) I reminded Mr Forbes that this was neither a GMB nor a Labour Party meeting but a TUC meeting open to all who opposed the proposed government cutbacks; the GMB objectors were sectarian and this should have been explained to them by their union official. Margie Arts, Secretary of Barrow and Furness Pensioners' Association informed Mr Forbes that Mr Smart was attending as Deputy Chairman of the Pensioners' Association and had every right to be at the meeting. With such ignorance existing in local trade unions, it is hardly surprising no support was ever given by them for the People's Charter stall and petition held by pensioners since before the General Election in May.
The meeting finally returned to the matter of planning a campaign against the cuts and, following expressions of solidarity, it was agreed a Day of Action (to coincide with the TUC's national campaign) would be held in Barrow town square from noon until 1pm. Is that impressive, or what?
Pensioners announced they would set up their People's Charter stall at 11am and advised trade unions to apply for a quantity of official TUC campaign leaflets to distribute on the day (and I made a note to also apply for some just to ensure they were available - decision to do so based upon past experience in these matters)
Pensioners also advised that union officials should urge their retired members to turn up to support the Wednesday event and that the Students' Union at both Furness College of Further Education and Barrow Sixth Form College be contacted as cuts were to be inflicted on these institutions. These proposals were agreed.
Naturally, I shall attend on Wednesday - for 11am - to fully support the action and also take along my camera to record this historic moment.
CONGRATULATIONS TO COMRADE TEBBS ON HER WELL-DESERVED AWARD!
Much to the delight of the women of Manchester Trades Union Council, Betty Tebbs, 92 years old and still active in the labour movement, was presented with the Elizabeth Gaskell award at a ceremony at Manchester Town Hall last week.
This special award is given to an individual or group that has promoted the role of women in public life and made a significant contribution to charities or humanitarianism
Betty, a long-time member of the Communist Party, shop steward from a young age, dedicated peace activist and, it is thought, probably one of the oldest and longest serving members of a Trades Union Council has never wavered in her commitment to the Party, to peace and socialism.
Comradely greetings and very best wishes from a Furness Red to Betty Tebbs.
AND, TO CONCLUDE...
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