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Unite the resistance

A new anti cuts coalition is being set up in November, it offers a real opportunity for the left, but only if it breaks out of the style of campaigns we have seen before, writes Luke Cooper

THE UNITE the Resistance conference on 19 November will bring together hundreds of rank and file trade unionists who are set to strike in defence of their pensions later in the month.
It will be an opportunity to develop the cross union rank and file organisation, independent of the official leaderships, that is capable of holding them to account, and taking action without them should they try and sell the struggle out.
Unite the Resistance will be able to achieve these things if it begins to move away from the model of front campaigns that dominant the practice of the socialist left in Britain.
The conference will see a number of different workshops – with the opportunity to share experiences, network and discuss campaigning proposals.
Such workshops are undoubtedly important. But it’s also crucial that the conference discusses and agrees a strategy for the movement in the run up to 30 November strikes.
We need to be drawing up concrete plans for the rapid escalation of the dispute. Even a one day strike of 3 million workers is unlikely on its own to force the government’s hand.
Maximum co-ordinated strike action – official if possible, unofficial if necessary – must be organised to throw back this Tory led offensive.
The conference should also call for a general strike to bring down the government and see the battle of pensions as part of a massive industrial campaign to force the Tories out.
We should push for longer strikes around 30 November – to send the message to both the union leadership and the Tories, that we are prepared to escalate this dispute.  We should fight to get the endorsement of the union leaders, but be prepared to take unofficial action too.
To give workers the confidence to do this we need to build cross union strike committees across boroughs, towns and cities so that the rank and file of the unions are able to organise effective coordinated action from below, if the union leaders aren’t prepared to do it from above.
The conference should seek to develop strong links with local anti-cuts committees, communities and all groups taking action against the government and banks – UK Uncut, Occupy the City – with the aim of developing a mass movement of strikes, occupations and direct action against the government and its business allies.
The potential of Unite the Resistance, however, is as a cross-union rank and file movement fighting with the union leaders where possible, but also without them where necessary.
For this potential to be realised it must genuinely unite the resistance. It can’t just create another branded, SWP front campaign which is bureaucratically controlled from the top down.
It will only be taken seriously by militants if it actively seeks to co-ordinate with the broadest possible range of socialist and trade union campaigns, such as the National Shop Stewards Network and the Unite Grassroots Left, to develop a powerful rank and file movement.

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