NSSN TUC Rally 2021

Over 300 attended the online 12th annual NSSN TUC Rally on Sunday 12th September. There was a fantastic exchange of ideas from all levels of the union movement, sending the clear message to TUC Congress, which is meeting virtually this week – that the fight needs to be stepped up against the offensive of the employers and their Tory government.

We heard fighting speeches from Sharon Graham Unite General Secretary, Dave Ward CWU General Secretary, Sarah Woolley BFAWU General Secretary, Carmel Gates NIPSA General Secretary, Joe Simpson POA Deputy General Secretary and Joe Kirby RMT NEC & offshore worker. We also had an open mic with over 20 contributions from union executive members and longstanding shop stewards to newer, younger reps and community activists having their say.

NSSN Chair Rob Williams reminded the meeting that exactly 10 years ago, TUC Congress became a ‘council of war’ as unions co-ordinated the industrial action ballots that led to the 2 million strong N30 public sector pensions strike. Rob said that in the face of the brutal fire and rehire and the Tory public sector pay insult, the same united front is needed now. The NSSN will continue to play its part in the fight to make sure that workers don’t pay the price for the Covid crisis.

NSSN TUC Rally photo

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The NSSN held last year’s annual pre-TUC Rally on Sunday September 13th 2020. TUC Congress  was truncated and was mainly online, due to restrictions because of COVID our event was also virtual.

But it was an excellent meeting, with a mix of fighting union leaders and rank & file union reps and members. Watch the video of the NSSN TUC Rally here.

Alongside Sarah Woolley BFAWU, Dave Ward CWU, Amy Murphy USDAW, Steve Hedley RMT and Howard Beckett Unite, we heard about many disputes, including the indefinite PCS Tate strike, the NUJ action at Bullivant in the West Midlands and the struggle of the Debenhams workers in Ireland.

There were also appeals for support for campaigns against union victimisation, such as Tony Smith Hull Unison in FCC, Richie Venton Glasgow USDAW in IKEA and Colin Hayden Manchester Unite in Go-Ahead buses.

More than ever, the TUC needs to be a council of war, where the class lines are drawn – workers won’t pay the price for this crisis. We must send a clear message of defiance to the employers and their Tory government, which in turn will give confidence to workers that the unions will fight. We’ve already seen that workers join unions when the need to be organised is clear and a fighting lead is given.

The NSSN pre-TUC Rally on September 13th, called on TUC Congress last week to organise a day of demonstrations and protests in every town and city on Saturday October 24th to demand the furlough scheme, scheduled to end a week later, is continued and upgraded – we say ‘work or full pay!’ We say that the unions must mobilise for this fight, especially as new lockdowns are announced. Already, protests are being organised by trades councils and union branches around that time. Email us any that you are calling and we’ll publicise.


Workers not to blame for workplace Covid-19 outbreaks! – Speaking at the NSSN TUC rally, Dr. Jonathan Fluxman from Doctors in Unite explained that government, some public health officials and the media have been quick to blame workers for large workplace outbreaks. But Covid-19 is not just spread by large droplets, which can be controlled with social distancing and hand washing. The evidence shows inadequate ventilation is responsible for spreading an aerosol of tiny droplets. The slides of a talk given by Jonathan Fluxman to the Hazards Group recently can be seen here