SA National Office bulletin
27 November 2002
New talks to resolve the fire fighters strike have been announced for Friday. Blair has enormously raised the stakes by insisting that any deal must go back to Bain and now openly talking about a potentially massive downsizing of the fire service. Brown is banging on and on about resisting inflation-busting deals. The government need the FBU to suffer a humiliating defeat so they can continue with their attacks on pay and conditions in the public services and privatisation.
We need to continue to increase building support for the fire fighters. The fire fighters are fighting to end low pay and reverse privatisation. The FBU executive will be considering whether or not to call a national demonstration in London for Saturday 7th December at their meeting tomorrow (Thursday 28th). We will know on Thursday at 2pm whether or not the demonstration, is going ahead but if it does, it is likely to be officially supported by the vast majority of the trade union movement.
And if the demonstration goes ahead, we need a massive and urgent mobilisation by the Socialist Alliance. We hope to be able to produce placards and leaflets for the demonstration, particularly raising the question of the political fund and the need for a socialist alternative to Blair and New Labour. We will also try to produce pdfs of leaflets and posters to advertise the demo. If the demo is called, it makes it absolutely vital that we take every opportunity locally to build for the demo with stalls on Saturday if possible and leafleting of railway and bus stations and busy shopping areas during the week.
Victimisation of the Socialist Alliance vice-chair
Steve Godward, a striking fire fighter in Birmingham and one of the Socialist Alliance's two vice-chairs, has been threatened with almost certain summary dismissal this coming Monday for 'gross misconduct'. He has been convicted by a kangaroo court on trumped up charges. What management really have against Steve is that he is a trade union activist who stands up for the rights and interests of his members. This is therefore part of the wider assault on the FBU being orchestrated by the government. It is essential that the FBU leadership takes up Steve's case. There will be a further mailing on this issue shortly, giving information on the background and where to send messages of support.
We have produced a national newsletter for Winter 2002. This is going out in a national mailing in the next few days and will also be available on the website from tomorrow [now available as two files: outer pages (pdf file 390Kb) and inner pages (pdf file 386Kb)]. We will be distributing it widely at the fire fighters demo if it goes ahead next week. If local Socialist Alliances wish to order copies, please contact the national office. Due to constraints on finance we have had to limit the print run but we should have some copies available and if we get orders, we will be able to reprint. The price would be £5 for 50.
Stopping the war
Blair's war preparations continue apace with the call up of reservists in Britain this week. The extremely important Stop the War conference, scheduled for Saturday 7th December, will be postponed if the fire fighters demo goes ahead. Comrades are encouraged to take out a standing order to the Stop the War Coalition and to affiliate local organisations including your local Socialist Alliance. We are also asking local SAs to set up Socialist Alliance public meetings under the title 'Why we oppose globalisation and war', if you haven't already had such a public meeting. Please contact the national office if you need help with speakers, etc. We will be emailing again if a new date has to be set for the conference.
Membership and recruitment
There are big opportunities for the Socialist Alliance to significantly increase our membership over the next few months. We strongly encourage SA members to get copies of the national membership leaflet, now available for download from the website [here (pdf file 264Kb)] or by request from the national office, and ask as many people as possible to join up.
New office worker
The Socialist Alliance is now advertising for a new full-time office worker. If you are interested in applying for the job, please contact the national office. Job description, terms and conditions of employment are currently being decided.
Health policy group
A health policy group is being convened by Geoff Barr from Exeter Socialist Alliance. The purpose is to develop the Socialist Alliance's policies on the health service. If you are interested in participating in the group, please contact Geoff at email@example.com
European Social Forum
Planning for the next European Social Forum, in St Denis, Paris next November, is getting under way shortly. There is to be a meeting in St Denis on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th December. Preceding this, there will be a very important meeting of the English mobilisation on Wednesday 4th December in London. It is very important that the Socialist alliance establishes a stronger profile around the ESF than we have had so far. We want to encourage as many Socialist Alliance members as possible to get along to the meeting on the 4th. Please get in touch with the National Office if you are intending to go so that we can co-ordinate our presence at the meeting.
Women's Day School
There will be a Day of Discussion and Campaigning Ideas organised by the Socialist Alliance for women only on Saturday 25th January from 11am to 5pm at Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street, Manchester. The agenda will include meetings on The effects on women of globalisation, neo-liberalism and the 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 labour movement. A creche will be available if booked in advance - email for the creche and further details from Margaret Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 14th December.
The May 2003 local elections are a big opportunity for the Socialist Alliance to make further significant electoral advance. The elections will be taking place in the context of the vicious attacks on the Fire Brigades Union, a declining economy (due to 'turbulence' in the world economy according to Gordon Brown) and war on Iraq. But to make the most of the opportunities, we need to be planning for the elections now. This means beginning to get candidates in place and establishing the presence of the Socialist Alliance in the wards in which we intend to stand.
The National Council will meet on Saturday 14th December at the South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London N1, nearest station Euston, from 12noon to 5pm. 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-15th March 2003
- Other resolutions
- Any other business
The annual conference will be on Saturday 15th March, 2003 at the South Camden Community School, Charrington Street, London N1. The Conference Arrangements Committee has decided there will be a deadline of Friday 24th 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 21st 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 24th January and for preliminary slates to be drawn up and submitted by 21st February. Nomination of slates will close at 2pm at the annual conference on Saturday 15th 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 relationship of the trade unions to the Labour Party is now a burning issue that we need to be raising in our union branches now. Waltham Forest Socialist Alliance is having a public meeting on 'Labour and the unions' with, amongst others, fire fighters on the platform. We will also shortly ghave a new leaflet on the political fund question. Our model motion can be found on the website here. We also 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
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
- e) Stop the War demo in Newcastle-assemble 10.30am Wesley Square, Newcastle Quayside
Wednesday 4 December - European Social Forum mobilisation meeting, 6.30pm, room 3C, University of London Union, Malet Street.
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 in London or national demonstration in London in support of the firefighters
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; War; Women's day school - 19 Nov 02
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