FIRST, I’d like to thank Adam Walker - our President – on his excellent Christmas Message. He has highlighted some of the cases we’ve worked on during 2010 and has outlined what he feels we need to do in 2011.
I’d agree with Adam and say that 2010 was a great year for Solidarity Trade Union. As he says, we always punch well above our weight. Despite what our enemies say, we are a real union that wins real industrial and workplace cases.
Before I outline my objectives for next year, I like to briefly demolish the main lies of our enemies and rivals. As we’re opposed to both capitalism and communism, it’s probably not surprising that misinformation about Solidarity has been peddled both by the left and the right.
I feel that much of the ‘left’ misunderstands us because many of those involved in groups like the Socialist Workers Party are from a middle-class background who have a mindset which predisposes them to misinterpret the actions and motives of others. Thus, they don’t really understand our union work.
These infantile leftists are driven by ideology so they seek to identify politically with workers. However, they don’t understand real working class concerns. That’s why they can’t understand why British workers have real fears over mass immigration and the effect many feel it has on jobs, wages, working conditions, housing and education.
On the other hand, some on the ‘right’ feel that we should shun union work because it’s ‘left-wing’ to stand up for the rights of workers and to demand the redistribution of both wealth and property.
Rightists also feel that just a slight tweaking of the banking system will suffice. And they feel that all we need is some form of patriotic conservatism – perhaps a form of ‘national’ capitalism – and all will be well.
Both views are mistaken.
We are a free, autonomous and independent nationalist union and not a ‘fake’ union or a ‘front’ for any group. We have won thousands of pounds for our members in various settlements. When it comes to representing our members at grievances and disciplinaries we have a very high success rate. If we are a ‘fake’ union, then God help the bosses when we become a ‘real’ union!
In his Christmas message, Adam pointed out his three main objectives for 2011 – increased recruitment, appointing Regional Representatives and building a “research, communications and logistics team” that can produce various publications. I agree with him here. We urgently need to debate these ideas in the New Year and act upon any and all decisions made.
I’ve also got an additional three objectives that I’d like the union to look at:
1. We need to look at issues relating to the education of our members, supporters and indeed the general public.
Many folk know very little about Britain’s rich agricultural, industrial and trade union history and heritage. I feel that this is the fault of those establishment trade unionists who seem more interested in unveiling busts of Marx, events in the democratic pleasuredomes of Nicaragua, North Korea or Cuba or even the lessons of the Spanish Civil War! Indeed, they seem to be spend a disproportionate time on everything foreign and comparatively little on educating their fellow Britons about our rich history of fighting for collective rights and resisting exploitation.
2. We also need to look at issues relating to the welfare of our members, supporters and indeed the general public.
We should explore ideas on how the union can help people with practical matters. Some of my fellow Solidarity National Executive members have already pointed the way. For instance, David Kerr has noted that as well as campaigning against Con-Dem cuts, trade unionists should be thinking in practical terms of how we can support those who are worse off than themselves. And Mark Walker has wondered if the union could, in future, involve itself in some form of self-help, social action initiative or charitable acts.
3. We need to expand on the theme – briefly covered in our 2010 May Day Greetings message – of building a world-wide united nationalist workers front to fight against the twin evils of capitalism and state socialism.
In closing I’d like to reiterate what Adam said about recruitment and activism. Recruits - and especially activists - are the lifeblood of any organization. Doubling Solidarity’s membership means that the additional income will allow us to increase our representation work. Doubling our membership will ensure that even more folk will have a vital 'insurance' policy in the event of problems at work.
Much of what we do is trade union work in the purest sense. However, we want to do so much more! That is why in 2011 I will argue for the establishment by our Union of a Poltical Fund which our members will have the choice of opting into.
At the moment Solidarity is a relatively new and small union – but with big ideas! As well as providing our members with an ‘insurance’ policy, we want to win the battle for the hearts and minds of ordinary British workers.
We want to become Britain’s biggest union representing both blue and white collar workers. To do this we need to build Solidarity into a real and powerful alternative to the establishment unions.
"Together we are strong!"
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