SA National Office bulletin
19 November 2002
Fire fighters resolution
Membership and recruitment
Women's day school
Elections 2003 and flyposting
Dates for the diary
Fire Fighters Resolution
The National Executive adopted the following resolution at its monthly meeting on Saturday 16 November. It also decided to call a Socialist Alliance day of action for the fire fighters for this Saturday 23 November. We are urging comrades to set up street stalls to petition for the fire fighters, take collections and distribute the latest Socialist Alliance leaflet (available here 96Kb pdf file). Please ensure you also invite fire fighters to join us in raising support and think of other initiatives you might be able to take to raise support for the fire fighters. There are still some fire fighters support posters available from Clive Searle in Manchester at a cost of £20 for 500 or £11 for 250, first come, first served. Contact Clive at email@example.com
'All the signs are that the government has precipitated a deliberate confrontation with the fire fighters in order to inflict a heavy defeat on them. John Prescott intervened to read the riot act to the FBU and then the Bain report was brought forward, which sabotaged realistic pay negotiations by introducing a wide ranging reorganisation of the fire service.
'Blair sees the strike as a strategic battle which he has to win. We have to do the same. Blair has said no government could give way to the demand the FBU is making because the result would be follow up claims from other workers in the public sector. The fire fighters are therefore to be defeated in order to intimidate other public sector workers from pursuing their own wage demands. A press campaign to vilify the fire fighters on public safety is taking place in the media to back this up.
'The government is also saying that if the next eight day strike goes ahead the army may well be told to enter the fire stations and take control of the equipment normally used by the fire fighters. Training exercises are already taking place on such equipment. The first purpose of this is to try to intimidate the FBU into calling off the strike. The union is unlikely to be intimidated and it is therefore possible that troops may be used in this way. This would be a huge escalation on behalf of the employers and the government and would throw down a challenge to the whole trade union movement. John Monks has already said that the first obligation is to public safety - in other words the TUC would not oppose such actions.
'Politically the response of new Labour to the fire fighters marks a new stage in its offensive against the unions and its willingness to act directly on behalf of the employers. This has implications for the relationship between the unions and New Labour and gives a new urgency to the campaign around the political fund. It also gives new urgency to the fight to build the SA as a socialist alternative to new Labour.
'The tremendous solidarity shown with the fire fighters by London underground workers and other refusing to work without fire safety cover shows the level of support which can be generated. The SA and all local groups should therefore give full support to the fire fighters by:
- Supporting the FBU picket lines
- Joining local support groups and helping to set them up where they don't exist.
- Distributing the SA leaflet on the strike as widely as possible
- Inviting FBU speakers to your union branch and Socialist Alliance meeting
- Campaigning for solidarity with the FBU
- Organising cash collections for the fire fighters
- Organising workplace walkouts over safety cover
- Stepping up the fight on the political fund
- Building a socialist alternative to new labour'
Passed unanimously 16 November 2002
The National Executive also passed the following resolution on opposing the war on Iraq. We are encouraging all Socialist Alliances to organise SA public meetings on 'Why we oppose globalisation and war', making the links between privatisation, the fire fighters dispute, and the imperialist attack on Iraq. You may have speakers locally or in your district who could lead off such a public meeting, but if you need help with speakers, please contact the national office on 020 7609 2999. It will also be important to try and get fire fighters to address the meeting. We will be producing a pdf of a public meeting leaflet/poster in the next couple of days.
'The Socialist Alliance National Executive resolves:
- To support the initiative taken by the European Social Forum, proposed by the Stop the War Coalition, that:
- on the day of an attack on Iraq there should be an anti-war demonstration in every town and city in Europe.
- on the weekend following the beginning of an attack on Iraq there should be an anti-war demonstration in every European capital city.
- on February 15 2003 there will be a European wide day of anti-war demonstrations, including a Stop the War Coalition demonstration in London which aims to bring demonstrators to London on the night before the demonstration and have a day of activities, meetings and cultural events, accommodating demonstrators in mosques, trade union premises, occupied colleges and community halls.
- To encourage local Socialist Alliances to hold meetings on the theme of 'Why we oppose Globalisation and War', making the links between privatisation, the fire fighters dispute, and the imperialist attack on Iraq.
- To encourage Socialist Alliance members to become supporters of the Stop the War Coalition, to affiliate organisations of which they are members, including local Socialist Alliances, to the Coalition, to become involved in its work, and to attend the Stop the War conference on 7 December.'
Passed 16 November 2002
Membership and recruitment
We are continuing to recruit steadily to the Socialist Alliance. This week a new member in Fleetwood who has been a member of the Labour Party since the early 1990s, was a councillor, and is now a school governor resigned from the Labour Party over the issue of tuition fees and joined the SA. The branch secretary of the Norwich FBU has also joined this week and in York we have a new member who previously thought that the Liberal Democrats were the left opposition and has now decided to join the SA because he believes flexible labour markets need to be fought and that the Liberal Democrats are more interested in 'swing voters'; he argues, "The fights for the votes of the few has left many, myself included, without political representation." A new member from Surrey has sent a £100 donation and offered to help with organising supporters across the county and we are also still getting returns in from the SA 4-page tabloid put out on the anti-war demonstration.
New membership leaflet
We now have a new membership leaflet which is A5 four pages. Please order them now and use them to sign up the thousands of people who would join the Socialist Alliance if only they were asked - if you or your local SA can make a donation to help cover costs that would be appreciated.
New Membership Scheme Adopted - Taking Out a Standing Order
The National Executive has decided to change the membership scheme from membership per calendar year to a rolling annual renewal. In other words, instead of membership expiring for everyone at the end of 2002, in future your membership will run for one year from the month of joining. We felt that the 2002 membership card has got across the idea that a new membership scheme is in operation, but felt that asking people who had paid £24 in October 2002 to pay £24 in January 2003 would not be the best way to win friends and influence people. So if you joined in October 2002 you will be asked to join again in October 2003. Your database record will now have a renewal date.
However, alongside this it was agreed to ask people to take out a standing order so that the office can use our time and resources on building campaigns, developing better communication with the membership, and helping to build more local Socialist Alliances rather than having to get members to renew. If you are not on a standing order please consider taking one out as this will be a huge help in building the SA in 2003. You will be able to find it on the SA website in the next week - we add a copy below which you might like to print off and send to us at the SA office. If you have any membership queries please contact Will McMahon at the office by phone, post or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Standing Order to the Socialist Alliance
Your Name (PRINT) ___________________________________________________________
Your Address (PRINT) ____________________________________________________________
Your Bank Name and Address ______________________________________________________________
Bank Sort Code ___ ___ ___ Bank Account Number ________________________
I authorise the sum of £ _______ (amount in words here: pounds) to be paid from my account to the Socialist Alliance very month.
I authorise this to start form _____/______/_____ (DD/MM/YEAR)
Socialist Alliance Account details are:
Unity Trust Bank, Nine Brindley Place, 4 Oozells Place, Birmingham B1 2HB
Sort Code 08 60 01 Customer Account Number 20096175
Women's Day School
There will be a Day of Discussion and Campaigning Ideas organised by the Socialist Alliance for women only on Saturday 25 January from 11:00am to 5:00pm at Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, Manchester. The agenda will include meetings on The effects on women of globalisation, Neo-liberalism and US/UK warmongering, How to make the Socialist Alliance more attractive to women, and workshops on campaigns and programmes, including the situation facing young women today, womens' under-representation in the Socialist Alliance, trade unions, and the labour movement.
A creche will be available if booked in advance - email for the creche and further details from Margaret Manning at email@example.com The day school will be open both to women who are SA members, but also to non-members. If women want accommodation on Friday/Saturday evening this can also be arranged with SA members in Manchester. A leaflet with more details will be available at the National Council on 14 December.
Elections 2003 and flyposting warning
Comrades need to be preparing now if you have elections in May 2003. Bristol Socialist Alliance have already selected some of their candidates to give them the maximum chance of establishing themselves in their wards well in advance of the election campaign itself. Our election agent in Waltham Forest, London, in the May elections has been successfully personally charged £1,200 by the council for illegal flyposting during the election. This is the third such case and the cumulative charge so far is over £2,000.
We are strongly urging comrades not to flypost as councils now have legal precedents to make this very expensive for us. We are especially vulnerable at election time when the Labour Party is at its most vulnerable and vindictive and when posters will bear the name and address of the election agent. There will be a national appeal going out shortly to assist the comrade concerned to pay the £1,200 charge.
The National Council will meet on Saturday 14 December at South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London N1 (nearest station Euston) from 12noon to 5:00pm. The standing orders for the council have been sent out separately, the agenda is below:
- Apologies, minutes and matters arising
- Report on matters relating to the resignation of the chair
- Fire fighters strike and related trade union matters
- Stopping the war
- Elections in 2003 and 2004
- Annual conference - 15 March 2003
- Other resolutions
- Any other business
The annual conference will be on Saturday 15 March 2003 at South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London N1. The Conference Arrangements Committee has decided there will be a deadline of Friday 24 January for policy resolutions and constitutional amendments, which may be submitted by individual SA members, local SAs, or the National Executive. The resolutions and constitutional amendments will then be sent to every registered member.
Amendments to the policy resolutions and constitutional amendments must then be submitted by Friday 21 February. A final order paper will then be sent to all members registered for the conference.
The CAC has also decided that whatever changes might be made to the method of electing the National Executive and the Appeals Committee at the annual conference, we will use the existing method as passed in December 2001 for the election of the National Executive and the Appeals Committee at the 2003 Annual Conference. This is election by slate using the alternative vote system of voting. However the CAC is urging those who might wish to be considered for election to the National Executive to put in their nomination, with up to 100 words of biography, to the CAC by 24 January and for preliminary slates to be drawn up and submitted by 21 February. Nomination of slates will close at 2:00pm at the annual conference on Saturday 15 March.
The National Executive is encouraging local Socialist Alliances to make time available at their local meetings in December and January to discuss resolutions they might wish to put forward to the annual conference.
Political fund debate
The fire fighters strike and the growing industrial action in other areas, now including a London-wide teachers' strike on November 26, the possibility of seven of Britain's major airports being closed by industrial action by fire fighters and security staff on 28 November, and industrial action by rail workers in the North West in December means the question of the relationship of the trade unions to the Labour Party remains a very important issue that we need to be raising in our union branches now. We have produced a model motion which can be found on the website at www.socialistalliance.net/tradeunion/polfunddem.html and we need to hear from you any good stories about getting motions successfully passed to be debated at union conferences next year.
Dates for the diary
Wednesday 20 November - Rally against racism, 8.30pm, Mill Hill Community Centre, Blackburn and protest against the BNP candidate at Blackburn election count from 9pm on Thursday 21 November. Contact the Anti Nazi League for details on 020 7924 0333.
Friday 22 November - Start of eight day strike of fire fighters from 9am protest in support of the fire fighters outside Prescott's and Raynsford's offices at 26 Whitehall from 12.30pm, called by PCS and Unison members.
Saturday 23 November - a) Socialist Alliance day of action for the fire fighters
- b) Unison United Left conference Leeds Metropolitan University 12noon to 4pm
- c) Which way forward for the anti-capitalist movement? 3pm, Hong Kong Lecture Theatre, Clement House, Aldwych, London, (tubes: Temple / Holborn). Speakers: Walden Bello, writer and activist, Claudio Jampaglia, Italian Social Forum, Linda Smith, FBU, Nick Dearden, Globalise Resistance. The venue for this meeting only holds 270 and the organisers are recommending comrades arrive early to guarantee admission
Sunday 24 November - CBI protest called by Globalise Resistance 3.30pm Manchester GMEX centre-leading New Labour cabinet ministers will be attending the CBI conference. Transport has been organised from a number of places across the country-phone GR on 020 7053 2071 for details
Tuesday 26 November - London teachers strike over London allowance, with possibility of Unison Local Govt workers also striking. There will be a major central London demo which we will be leafleting
Thursday 28 November - Major airport strikes by fire and security staff
Saturday 30 November - a) Conference of independent members of the Socialist Alliance, Birmingham
- b) Socialist Campaign Group conference in Manchester with Andy Gilchrist, Bob Crow and Mark Serwotka
- c) Palestine Solidarity Campaign conference in London
- d) Unity conference against racism and the Nazis with Mick Rix, Bob Crow and Asad Rehman, the Mechanics, Burnley, for details contact the ANL.
Friday 6 December - Love Music, Hate Racism launch party at the Ocean, 270 Mare Street, London E8 featuring Heartless Crew and many others from 10pm to 6am, tickets £15 in advance. For more details contact the ANL.
Saturday 7 December - Manchester LMHR launch party, Contact Theatre, Oxford Road, Manchester M15 featuring Grand Central and many others from 7.30pm to 2am, tickets £5 on the door. For more details contact the ANL.
Saturday 7 December - Stop the War Coalition national conference, London.
Saturday 14 December - Socialist Alliance National Council meeting, London
Saturday 18 January 2003 - Socialist Alliance National Executive meeting, Birmingham
Saturday 25 January - Socialist Alliance day school for women, Manchester
Wednesday 29 January - Lobby of Parliament for council housing called by Defend Council Housing
Saturday 15 February - Stop the War demonstration, London
Saturday 15 March - Socialist Alliance annual conference, London
Rob Hoveman, National Secretary
Firefighters' strike is on - 12 Nov 02
Firefighters; Political fund; Stop the war - 5 Nov 02
Stop the War; The political fund debate - 29 Oct 02
Strike off; Labour turmoil over Iraq - 6 Aug 02
All out to stop the war on Iraq - 30 Jul 02
TU meeting/Conference on Europe/ESF - 2 Jul 02
Mini-bulletin - 27 Jun 02
Perspectives for the next two years - 17 Jun 02
Taking the long view - 12 Jun 02
Capitalising on our election success - 6 Jun 02
Contact the SA office by phone on 020 7609 2999 or by email