[By Phil Clarke - Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT Secretary (personal capacity)]
Nearly 40 trade unionists attended the launch of the National Shop Stewards Network in Brighton. Organised by local Socialist Party members to get the network started, reps were present from various branches of NUT, UCU, Unison, RMT, GMB and both halves of Unite.
The meeting heard from Socialist Party industrial organiser and NSSN co-organiser Bill Mullins about the recent Lindsey construction worker strikes and went on to discuss how to build a network of shop stewards in the local area.
Many of the contributions focused on the lack of political representation for the unions and how they could be broken from Labour. The Campaign for a New Workers' Party was raised and many reps signed the declaration including a member of the RMT national executive.
A small committee of volunteers was put together at the close of the meeting who will now focus on building the network, particularly across South East bringing in unions not present, such as the CWU and FBU, as well as getting plans together to support the upcoming UCU strike at Sussex Downs College in Lewes, Newhaven and Eastbourne on the 24 and 25 March.
It is also vital in our area that we begin to organise more shop, call centre and financial workers as it is likely that it will be these groups who will be hit first and hardest by job losses in the town.
It is clear that the Socialist Party in Brighton, which has grown rapidly over the last few years, is really sinking roots in the local labour movement and will be at the forefront of efforts to defend workers from the effects of the recession.
For more information contact Phil Clarke on 07709696561 or visit www.shopstewards.net