Unions get behind alternative resistance

After appearing to settle down after March 26th’s half a million strong ‘march for the alternative’, the anti-cuts movement has been boosted in Britain in recent weeks by some hugely encouraging developments within the unions, flying in the face of those who wish to marginalise organised workers in the campaign.

Unions have found new ways to tackle attacks on the public sector in the past few months – and now PCS civil servants union and the TSSA transport union have agreed to join in ‘non-violent resistance’ to the sweeping austerity being imposed on the UK and Europe as a whole.

The TSSA at its conference on Friday passed a resolution to encourage ‘participation in non-violent resistance activities in conjunction with others such as trade unions, trades councils, the People’s Charter, the Coalition of Resistance and local community organisations’.

This follows the PCS union just a month or so ago voting to ‘fully support the protests and peaceful civil disobedience tactics used by the grassroots campaigners UK Uncut’. Members are being encouraged to join the demonstrations – Cornwall has its own action in Camelford on the 10th June and it is hoped that members in the area will attend.

These developments are not purely symbolic or ‘muscle flexing’. The PCS represents over 300,000 workers. Such a mandate of support can go a long way at countering the emerging stigma against anti-cuts action following demonstrations over the past year.

Even the NUS is getting in on the conference season’s radical policy changes, declaring (albeit quietly) on the 17th of May its opposition to ‘Israel’s siege on Gaza and actively campaign for it to be lifted in accordance with international law’. This is a big shift from the NUS policy of 2008 which refused to condemn Israel’s siege on Gaza which killed 1400 Palestinian civilians.

Yes, motions like these are passed and some perhaps ignored every year. But they highlight real moves towards unity and solidarity which have been missing for a long time. And the PCS decision led to one of UK Uncut’s strongest Days of Action of the year.


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