Busy union activists, in the middle of bitter disputes, are well aware of their importance to the peace movement

World Peace and the Trade Union Movement – Sat 7 Jan 2023

The Amersham Arms, New Cross

Well Red Choir

An evening of torrential rain wasn’t going to put off people who have been on picket lines for months and, with brilliant musicians, union activist speakers and the impeccable sound quality of the Amersham Arms, it should have been no surprise that there were around a hundred people at this social event to build for Stop the War’s trade union conference on 21 January.

The narrow passing of a composite motion at the TUC conference, that cynically combined many good statements about the economy, outsourcing, tax avoidance and investment in manufacturing with calls to increase spending on arms, was a wake-up call to trade the majority of union members who never forget that it’s working people who suffer from war, either directly or through the diversion of resources and investment.

Charles Fisher, RMT Deptford

This was a social event, organised by Lewisham Stop the War and sponsored by Lewisham TUC and Greenwich and Bexley TUC.

It was intended to promote Stop the War’s conference The World At War: A Trade Union Issue where trade unionists will plan how they can work in their unions to campaign for an economy and jobs not based on arms production.

It was also a fundraiser with a collection that raised a few hundred pounds for RMT, CWU, RCN and PCS strike funds.

Billy Hayes, Stop the War Officer & Former CWU Gen Sec

To kick off the evening, Michael Coulston recalled his first involvement with Stop the War through an affiliated union branch, and being on all the marches from 2001 to 2003 under a union banner. John McGrath presented the programme and agenda of the upcoming conference and encouraged everyone present to persuade their branches to send delegates and to register themselves.

Rousing speeches were given by:

  • Cheryl McLeod, Chair of Lewisham TUC
  • Billy Hayes, former General Secretary of CWU and STW National Officer
  • Sarah Green, NEU Greenwich
  • Charles Fisher, RMT Deptford
  • Ben Woodward, RMT DLR, with a poem of his own composition

Brilliant musical entertainment was provided by:

  • Flaky Jake and Paul Moody
  • The Well Red Socialist Choir
  • Lizzie Shirley
  • The Four Fathers

Flaky Jake & Paul Moody

Overall, the speakers did an excellent job of linking the trade union movement with class consciousness and the peace movement[1]. Busy union activists, in the middle of bitter disputes, are well aware of their importance to the peace movement. It was good to see such a mix of young union activists and veteran peace campaigners coming together.

[1] Copyright John McGrath

10 Jan 2023 by Michael Coulston

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