One Big Union
The first Annual Conference of Solidarity was held at the Alexandra Suite of the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury on 24 February, 2007.
The room had been booked in the name of the Union. Those attending were in defiant mood. There had been threats to disrupt the Conference by those opposed to our radical and progressive ideals. They fear that Solidarity will grow in influence as it represents workers and speaks out on issues like mass migration and off-shoring which are of great concern to them. Therefore they vowed to prevent our meeting. Our members, who are mainly politically active manual workers, were prepared for all eventualities. On the day, however, the threats came to nothing. A well-planned security operation was instigated to ensure the safety of delegates so that the AGM could proceed in good order.
The Annual Conference passed a number of resolutions. Here are the highlights:-
A resolution approving model rules paving the way for the establishment of a political fund.
A resolution amending our Constitution to pave the way for recruitment amongst police and prison officers.
Resolutions establishing the relationship between the Executive and Industrial Sector heads.
A resolution allowing Solidarity members to belong to other unions (this was amended to state that officials of Solidarity could not have such dual membership).
Conference heard that it was unlikely that our Political Fund (if established) would donate to any political Party but rather would act generally and give support to worthy single issue groups. Model rules require members to choose to make separate payment rather than deduct money from general membership payments. This is fairly unusual in Trade Union circles! The Conference heard that Patrick Harrington had been elected General Secretary, Clive Potter, President and Tim Hawke Vice-President. All were elected unopposed.Our Executive will arrange a secret ballot of the whole membership for these positions over the coming years.
Speeches were given by Solidarity President, VP and General Secretary as well as Lee Barnes and David Kerr. Clive Potter made an impassioned speech calling for support of our new Union. VP, Tim Hawke, detailed the six policy areas we will focus on. Pat Harrington told conference that Solidarity represented a challenge to the established Unions – they could learn from it or lose members to it. Lee pointed out that our union has considerable rights under international treaties signed by the UK government and would be able to take action if it was discriminated against or victimised.
Dave Kerr (from Belfast) gave a talk on the Ulster Workers’ Council strike of the 70s and the lessons we could learn from it today.As Third Way/NLP members will note the meeting heard from two speakers who serve on the National Executive of our Party – David Kerr and Pat Harrington. Graham Williamson and a number of other members also attended indicating the firm support our Party is giving this new, exciting venture. In the evening members socialised at pubs in Westminster, Whitehall and Holborn and met with others who had not been able to attend during the daytime. A large anti-war demonstration had been held in Central London that day and so there was an opportunity to meet with some of those who had attended.
The Executive would like to thank all those who attended our Conference and those involved in ensuring that the event passed off without incident. Our first Annual Conference has paved the way for Solidarity to progress organisationally. The establishment lickspittles and bully-boys who oppose us failed in their endeavours. The leadership and membership of Solidarity stood firm, resolute and achieved all that they aimed for. Let all those within the current hierarchy of the Trade Union Movement who have understanding learn the lesson – our Union is here to stay!