Union leaders at the People’s Assembly Against Austerity on 22 June pledged support for anti-cuts strike action.
The TUC’s Frances O’Grady, Unite’s Len McCluskey, NUT’s Christine Blower and PCS’ Mark Serwotka told 4,000-plus delegates that it was time to step up the campaign against the Coalition.
Throughout the day, delegates were calling on union leaders to make good on a past TUC motion to consider a general strike.
At the plenary session, Len McCluskey told delegates: “We must work together to build the right support, to create the right climate for mass industrial action.
“When Unite members are ready and willing to take that industrial action to make the politicians change course, then we will not let the anti-union laws get in our way.
Mark Serwotka, who leads the civil service PCS, said the industrial action already taken by his union would have been more successful with support from other unions.
He also went further after Labour leader, Ed Milliband, announced earlier today that a future government led by him would stick to Coalition spending plans.
He said: “There’s an awful political consensus in this country across the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour that believes that austerity is the only way forward. We have got to say that’s not acceptable.”
The Assembly took place at Westminster Hall and held workshops on topics such as tactics for anti-austerity campaigning, housing, economics, NHS, democracy, welfare state, climate change, impact of the cuts and immigration and Islamaphobia.
The Assembly passed a statement that organizers want local forums to discuss, amend and support at another conference in Manchester in the Spring.
The statement included setting up local assemblies, a national day of disobedience on November 5 and the Spring, backing NHS demonstrations on July 5 and a demonstration at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 29 September.
The big turnout prompted speakers to say that the fight back had reached a new stage.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “If you hurt us we will retaliate. It’s time to mobilize in our workplace and on the streets. The People’s Assembly is about taking this campaign to a whole new level.”
Writer, Owen Jones told delegates: “We are here to fight back. We are here for supermarket workers. We are here for disabled people forced into degrading, dehumanizing assessments by ATOS. We are here for millions of young people looking for work. We are here for 5 million people stuck on council housing waiting lists.
He also said: “We need unity but that doesn’t mean snuffing out difference. We need debate but we also recognise that we are on the same side.”
Leading figures at the conference included Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Diane Abbott MP, comedian Mark Steel, filmmaker Ken Loach. John Hiliary from War on Want, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Zita Holbourne from Black People Rising Against the Cuts.