‘The working class is back as a movement’ – Enough is EnoughUnion Matters August 18 2022
Over a thousand people cram into iconic South London venue for ‘Grand Launch’ of Enough is Enough campaign…
Supported by the CWU, RMT and UCU trade unions, as well as community campaigns Acorn, National Network Right To Food, Tribune magazine and a host of other organisations and individuals, the project aims to unite workplace and non-workplace activities right across the country, in a determined push to tackle the cost-of-living crisis and win real improvements in people’s lives.
With Enough is Enough events planned for all the UK’s major cities and towns over the coming weeks, yesterday’s London launch set the tone for what is sure to be one of the liveliest campaigns for many years – and if the sheer numbers turning up is repeated elsewhere, then it will be one of the most popular and effective struggles of recent times.
Just over the road from Britain’s busiest train station, Britain’s longest queues were forming over an hour before the scheduled start time – two lines to the left and right of the Clapham Grand’s entrance trailed up St John’s Hill and around the corner into Severus Road respectively, while event organisers worked hard to check tickets and get people inside as quickly as possible.
CWU strong commitment to campaign
It was a loud, lively and high-spirited audience that welcomed our union’s general secretary Dave Ward as the first speaker of the night – only a couple of hours after announcing a 97.8 per cent YES vote for further industrial action in defence of our Pathway to Change agreement with Royal Mail.
And while rightly praising and thanking our postal workers for delivering yet another a ringing endorsement of their union, Dave made clear that our intention in Enough is Enough is to fight for every worker in the UK, to organise the unorganised and to take the struggle for a better society into every workplace and every community in the UK.
“Every single worker counts and we’re standing up for every single working-class person,” he told the hall, adding: “We’ve also got to stand up for people outside of work, their families and their communities.
“This campaign is about building collectivism and we’re going to use this platform to give a platform to those who are fighting for change. We’re going to organise forms of collective action – whether you’re in a union or not.
“We are going to deliver change,” Dave concluded, to enthusiastic cheers and applause.
Housing for all – poetic praise for NHS
Housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa and writer Michael Rosen were the next speakers, Kwajo receiving a warm reception for his inspirational words about how he had become involved in the fight for fair housing after his own circumstances and experiences and explaining why it was so important to become active within this movement – and Michael ended his thought-provoking speech with his own poem These Are The Hands – which pays tribute to the work of our NHS.
Helen O’Connor, a GMB union representative, talked about struggles of workers she represents and of the need to bring privatised utilities back into public ownership, after which the evening’s host, our own head of comms Chris Webb, told the hall that Enough is Enough had received solidarity greetings from both Jeremy Corbyn and the American politician Bernie Sanders
Chris also raised laughter from the audience when he told them that the Conservative Party had expressed concern that the planned Royal Mail strike might delay their own leadership ballot!
Colleges heading for action – MP admits politics is ‘a bit sh*t’
College teachers are due to hold a nationwide industrial action ballot as well, according to the next speaker, UCU general secretary Jo Grady. In a strong speech, Jo warmly welcomed the launch of Enough is Enough and said how proud she was that the UCU was supporting it. She went on to sharply criticise employers and Government Ministers for their claims that the country ‘can’t afford’ decent pay rises for workers and insisted: “There’s no shortage of money for what we’re demanding.”
Coventry MP Zarah Sultana began her address by commenting on previous speakers’ criticism of politicians and described the overall political environment currently as “a bit sh*t.”
But in the rest of her speech, she made it clear that there are politicians who stick with their principles and who stand up and fight for workers and for the poor and vulnerable in society, condemning a situation in which “people are being forced to choose between heating and eating” while the wealthy and powerful continue to increase their profits and describing the present circumstances in the UK as “a crisis for the many, but a bonanza for the few.”
The hall clapped and cheered when Zarah explained the dynamics of the class struggle in the most straightforward terms, saying: “When workers go on strike, it’s workers v bosses – pick your side” and adding: “Whenever a trade union wins, we all win.”
Grand inspiration – Mick Lynch
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch brought the evening to a rousing close with a barnstorming speech, in which he spelled out the facts of the ongoing rail dispute – which resumes today and tomorrow as some 45,000 workers halt train services all over the country – and then went on to address the wider workplace and societal issues that Enough is Enough is fighting on.
Mick praised members of the CWU, the GMB, Unite, UCU and other workers who have taken action in defence of their terms and conditions and for real pay rises that tackle the rising cost of living, vowing: “We will fight for as long as it takes and we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with every other union in dispute.”
He went on to add his support to the demands of others for a return to public ownership – pointing out that, if we had a publicly owned UK energy sector, price controls could be imposed immediately and thereby kept affordable for every household.
This movement must be led by trade unions, he insisted, adding: “We can’t wait for the politicians, we’ve got to get out into communities and plant the union flag, join these campaigns up – we don’t want just one flower in the garden, we want the whole garden flourishing.
“We’ve got to lift up our people’s hearts and their hopes and get them out on the streets,” Mick urged.
Having to raise his voice amid the increasing applause and cheers, the RMT leader concluded: “Let this message go out from tonight. We refuse to be humble. We refuse to be poor.
“The working class is back as a movement.”