what it says on the tin? memories of the NSSN

In January the National Shop Stewards’ Network fell apart when the Socialist Party declared the foundation of yet another national anti-cuts campaign. Sheila Cohen reflects on the deeper roots of NSSN’s failure

What follows will have to be taken as a personal account, given the fierce antagonisms and uncertain alliances involved in the split which took place at the National Shop Stewards’ Network (NSSN) conference on 22nd January. Since that time, the comments of the NSSN majority have focused largely on the “democracy” of the debate, which saw a large vote for the proposal that the NSSN launch an “anti-cuts campaign, bringing trade unions and communities together to save all jobs and services”.

There is no point commenting here on the methods available for securing such large majorities. That would be to detract from the central issue which saw up to 100 people leave the conference – and the NSSN. Our spirited discussion at a nearby pub was not based on any lack of formal “democracy”, but on the fundamental irrelevance of the debate, if such it can be called, on the future of working-class politics in Britain. Continue reading “what it says on the tin? memories of the NSSN”

30th november london reading group: the first shop stewards’ movement

The next of our London discussion meetings on trade union theory and workplace organising takes place from 7pm on Monday 30th November at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street.

The subject of the meeting is the shop stewards’ movement which emerged in Britain in the years following World War I. See questions framing the discussion, and recommended reading, below. All welcome, email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more details. Continue reading “30th november london reading group: the first shop stewards’ movement”

workers go it alone

Jake Lagnado, who is involved in the Latin American Workers’ Association, wrote this report (in a personal capacity) on the March 22nd National Shop Stewards Network event for the Morning Star

As bosses use the recession to step up their attacks on workers, more and more rank-and-file union activists are declaring that they cannot afford to wait for union leaders to give the nod before fighting back.

Last week, the London Shop Stewards Network held a “workplace organising conference” to discuss how workers at the sharp end of the employer’s offensive, particularly agency staff and migrant workers, could learn from each others’ experience of resistance.

The London activists are part of the National Shop Stewards Network which was created in 2007 to forge grass-roots links between organised workers in different workplaces and rebuild the strength of our working-class movement. Continue reading “workers go it alone”

‘uncaptive minds’ forum 13th october: new methods of organising

The next of our ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on class struggle in the 1970s takes place from 6:30pm on Monday 13th October.

Anton Moctonian will be leading off a discussion on ‘new methods of organising: a critical comparison of the unions’.

The venue is in central London: email uncaptiveminds@googlemail.com for further details.

Anton has suggested that people attending the meeting may be interested in reading this document on shop steward organisation during the era.

For a report on the meeting on the ‘upsurge 1968-74’ click here; click here for a report on the meeting on the 1970 leeds clothing workers’ strike; and click here for Andrew Fisher’s report on the meeting on workers’ control and management.