Solidarity With the Greek Transport Workers – Our Dead, their Profits

At our meeting of 15th March 2023, The Trades Council agreed the following motion:

On the 28th of February in Tempi, Greece, a fatal train collision left 57 dead, most of them university students, and many more injured. The privatised Greek Railway have been operating passenger services for many years with NO SIGNALLING SYSTEM, with systems being inoperable due to cost cutting.

We, the members of the South Cambs EMS Sector Unite Branch representing workers and staff in our sector in Cambridge, express our solidarity to the people of Greece, the railway workers, the trade and student unions and the youth who mobilise and participate to the General Strike (across Greece and in all sectors) on 16th March against this prescribed crime. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

We would like to bring the motion to TUC Cambridge to consider a vote for solidarity to the Greek Unions participating in the marches and strikes.


Background to the motion.

Our dead, their profits

The accident took place 5 years after the privatization of Greek Railways following successive governments of different, stated “political orientation” (social democrats, right wing and so-call “progressive”), all sharing the same “vision” for a privatised rail network. The Italian operator “Ferrovie dello Stato” took over the entire national network for a mere 45 million euros, being subsidised by 50 million every year.

Constant press releases, warnings and appeals by the railway unionists have been ignored by management, successive governments and the media, while courts have been declaring many rail strikes illegal, forcing staff to get back to work amidst the crumbling infrastructure. Union members of DESK (a front that is supported by PAME, the militant class-orientated trade union front in Greece) had warned about an upcoming major accident on the 7th of February this year, once again being ignored by both the government and the train company management.

The majority of the British media make no mention that a private operator has been happily operating trains without a signalling system, because it had been more profitable not to maintain it, pocketing the savings with one hand, grabbing subsidies with the other. They are well aware that merely stating these facts, would lead to conclusions regarding privatisation in Britain being equally dangerous, as we have seen time and again on the British railways, the NHS and elsewhere. It would reveal that the governments prioritise the profits of the monopolies against our needs and lives; that governments and privatised sectors see public and workers’ safety as a cost, all over the world.

We express our solidarity with our striking Greek colleagues and students. Justice for the victims’ families, is fighting against the deadly privatisation policies everywhere.

Cambridge and District Trades Council AGM – Solidarity With the Striking Workers

The Cambridge & District Trades Council held their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 15th February. Delegates present both in the room and online were from Unite the Union, UNISON, UCU, GMB, CWU and Artist’s Union England.

The guest speakers was Anne Alexander of the UCU, who spoke about the catastrophic attack on pensions and how we could link the various industrial struggles together

The following officers were elected:

Chair: James Youd

Vice Chair: Sylvia Carter

Secretary: Dave O’Brien

Treasurer: Pam Stacey

Equalities: Alice Midori and Anand Pillai

Cultural and Events Officer: Jill Eastland

Pete Monaghan and Liz Brennan were also elected to the Executive Committee

The meeting passed a Peace motion to go to the Trades Council Annual Conference

The Council also agreed on continuing to support strikers and linking this in with Universal Credit, the cost of living crisis and unionising and recruitment. We would also continue to support housing campaigns and continuing to support opposition to all forms of discrimination.

The closing speaker was the former Trades Council Secretary and outgoing Treasurer Ian Beeby talking about his 45 years as a trade unionist. The Council gave a vote of thanks to Ian for his years of service to the Trades Council and the trade union movement.

At the end of the meeting, those present in the meeting room showed our support striking workers by sending this message of solidarity

UCU Heart Unions Lunchtime Meeting

At our AGM on Wednesday 15th February, we heard an inspiring speech from Anne Alexander of Cambridge UCU regarding the strike action they are taking and how we can all work together to better co-ordinate links between the various unions. A link to this video will be posted soon.

On Thursday there was a lunchtime Heart Unions meeting in which other unions were also invited.

Below is information regarding how it went, by the Trades Council’s Cultural Officer.

“Great event organised by Anne Alexander, UCU and CUSU for Heart Unions with a Solidarity lunch and speakers live from the strikes and protests in Sudan and France. We now need to organise for March 1st”  Jill Eastland Cultural Officer Cambridge & District Trades Council

Letter from the Chair of Our Trades Council to Daniel Zeichner MP for Cambridge Regarding the RMT Strike

Dear Daniel,

I write to you this evening as a friend, comrade and as my Member of Parliament for Cambridge.

This evening I have learnt in distress that Labour Party frontbenchers are being instructed not to support the RMT strikes and to refuse to attend picket lines across the country. As you will probably know there will be a picket line tomorrow morning at the Cambridge Signal Box which will be supported by local trade unionists in solidarity with rail workers.

I know as a fellow Trade Unionist and former employee of Unison you must be very distressed by this instruction by our party leadership. As Chair of the Cambridge and District Trades Council area I politely ask you to ignore this instruction and as Kate Osborne has already done prepare a resignation letter from the Shadow Cabinet if necessary.

I think an action by a respected member of the Shadow Cabinet like yourself would not just show our comrades in the RMT that they can rely on our solidarity, as I am certain many have in the past given to our party and our movement; it would also strengthen the hand of many in the Shadow Cabinet who will view this instruction an insult to their constituents and the trade union movement this party was founded to represent in parliament.

As you know I have backed you as our MP since you were elected in 2015, a mere footsoldier in that campaign. I subsequently helped you to be reelected in 2017 as part of the Unite London and Eastern Political Committee and in that election as a committee room manager in King’s Hedges. I did the same for you in East Chesterton in December 2019 despite the fact that my late partner was desperately ill and died in July 2020.

I thank you for all the letters we have exchanged in the past, the condolences you gave which I knew to be very heartfelt, when Jo died of cancer.

I am optimistic, as I know you believe fundamentally in the progress trade unions bring to so many people.

I hope your principles are stronger than your ambition, because this is something I and many of your fellow members and constituents see in you.

Sadly if you are unable to stand up against the Tory austerity machine, fight with our comrades in the RMT, see beyond an utterly incoherent Labour message or really represent people who are desperate because of the Tory cost of living crisis, I cannot offer myself again to organise or campaign for you in subsequent elections.

I remain a Labour member and will of course vote for the Labour candidate at the next General Election.

I hope as Chair of the Trades Council but also a long term Labour Party organiser and activist you will understand how painful but in my view necessary this letter is.

Yours Sincerely, James Youd,
Chair, Cambridge Trades Council
Unite the Union member

Cambridge Against the Cost of Living Crisis

Protesters from Cambridge People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Cambridge & District Trades Council and Cambridge UCU, among others, came together to stand up against the cost-of-living crisis imposed by Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, which after 12 years of Tory-imposed wage squeezes and falling living standards, has inflicted a cost-of-living crisis on the households across the country.