by Viv Smith
Trade unionists, students, unemployed workers, pensioners and migrant workers came together in a show of solidarity and unity today.
Over 900 people packed into the national Right to Work conference in Manchester.
Delegates spoke about the many challenges facing the working class and the attacks that are already underway on jobs, wages and conditions.
People also discussed the threat posed by the Nazi British National Party and the racists in the English Defence League.
Activists from the Stop the War Coalition, Campaign Against Climate Change, Unite Against Fascism and the National Shop Stewards Network were among those at the conference.
Over 300 people spoke across eleven workshops and two plenary sessions. The message was one of defiance and hope.
"Something has changed," Michael Bradley, Right to Work committee member, told the conference.
"Our side has begun to hit back.
"The bosses will try to divide us in the coming months, using arguments like ‘British jobs for British workers’, pitting local people against asylum seekers and demonising Muslims.
"We have to unite locally and nationally. At the heart of our unity is militant activity on the ground."
Delegates reported from a number of campaigns and disputes.
They included Vestas workers who had occupied against job losses, Fujitsu workers who are taking part in the first national strike in the IT sector and migrant cleaners fighting for union organisation.
Raymond, a Unite union member, who put forward a statement on moving forward after the conference, said, "Today has been inspirational and a huge success.
"But we have to be more than inspired – we need to leave here today intent on building unity on our side.
"The bosses are not as confident as they would like to be. They want to launch an offensive on our class, but we have shown that where we organise and fight back we can win.
"By tapping into networks and building solidarity – like workers have done at Fujitsu, Vestas, Tower Hamlets College and the Leeds refuse workers, we can drive back the attacks."
The statement (available » here ) was passed unanimously.
Proposals to build for and support the steel workers’ protest on 13 February, the march for public services in London on 10 April and for a protest outside the Tory Party spring conference were unanimously accepted.
Next week’s Socialist Worker will carry a full report of the conference.
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