Thursday, January 09, 2014

"Please come and have a DRINK!! with me"

I got this odd email invite the other day. Too busy doing union stuff to attend. 

: "For a new squabbling and democratic centralist disunted left? 

To: "Dave Bala<>
Dear Comrade, I am writing to ask if you would be interested in an initial chat and drinkies about how UNISON activists in London can best organise between and across branches and Service Groups to provide each other with solidarity, support and fun! 

I'm sending this to a fairly random selection of fellow activists who I think might be interested, but if I've got that wrong in your case please accept my apology and feel free to denounce me in whichever way seems most appropriate! 

A few of us will be meeting in the O’Neils pub in Euston Road for several hours from 1pm on Thursday 9 January to have such a chat about fine wines, favourite Waitrose recipes and Star Wars. 
We hope that this will be the beginning of a conversation which will broaden and deepen over the coming year. 

Since the tragic popular vote to walk away from pointless strikes was taken two years ago, we have been trying to chase more strikes, with precious little support from our national and Regional Union. 

Although individual branches and activists are resisting the attacks from us strike chasers we have not had a sufficiently strong rank and file network to force them to do what we tell them other in more than an ad hoc way. In London many of those trying to strike chase are under attack and feel isolated, and the official structures of the Union perpetuate that. 

With a further round of cuts and the threat of widespread privatisation at the same time as the possibility of spreading the fight for fair pay beyond Higher Education, now may be the time to build and strengthen an activist pub network for support and solidarity. We can only work out if this is possible through drinking between activists. 

Those of us hoping to start this discussion believe that all our union work must be founded on and informed by a principled and consistent opposition to oppression. We don't believe in an approach which sidelines (for example) issues of male violence against women in the interests of unity to oppose cuts. Our vision is of a workers' movement which builds unity from all our struggles and drinks together. 

Which is why we don’t want any of those splitters and wreckers from the SWP or SPEW, also why we have picked a pub to meet up with since we don’t want any boring teetotalers or Muslims turning up either. But while it's nice to have visions, what we need right now is far more practical. Such as a few drinkies! 

At this stage, we think activists need to consider and debate how we provide each other with mutual liquid aid in the circumstances of 2014 in UNISON in London. 

On Thursday lunchtime I hope to be part of the beginning of a long drinking discussion about how we might do that. If you're interested I hope you might be too? 

Obviously only a few of us will be able to participate in a lunchtime weekday chat. Many activists will be tied up in their branches doing real union work and don’t have full facility time like what we have. So they will not be able to use their facility agreements and travel during their union time to the pub, have drinkies, then travel back in union facility time. 

This is the beginning of a discussion of which no one knows the outcome. You know what it is like when you have had a few jars. 

Please pass this on to any UNISON member you think might be interested. Best wishes for the New Year! 

Dave Bala Lambeth Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Trotskyism Thought. (but completely unofficially of course!)
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