In July, the Southampton Morning Star Support Group took the initiative of hosting a meeting to create a People’s Assembly. The core support for moving forward to a launch was provided by UNITE and UNISON, there were a key band of individuals who also played a determining role.
In September about 80 people heard Steve Turner outline the need for a People’s Assembly, they in turn endorsed the Draft
Statement. In addition to supporters of campaigns such as The Bedroom Tax, Save Our Youth Services and Keep Our NHS Public, the launch meeting included Labour Party Councillors, and some new individuals.
A Steering Group of about 9 people, still maintaining the key support of UNITE and UNISON, have since met twice.
The first meeting to try and organise activities for the November 5th day of action, the second time to agree a delegate for the December 7th meeting and endorse organising an Assembly Public meeting set for December 10th.
The activities on November 5th embraced a demo outside ATOS offices, a demo outside the Job Centre, a protest about media coverage outside the BBC, with UNISON throughout the day highlighting the Living Wage issue. At the same time there was national strike action by NAPO. Nov 5th was preceded by a national
NUT/NASUWT strike which had an Assembly speaker at their local rally. Also the two Southampton Universities had joint unions strike action for better pay.
A new campaign, Southampton Christmas Credit, was launched on Nov 30th and we are trying to assist in building that momentum by highlighting the issue at our Dec 10th public meeting.
The future : We have yet to reach out to the disability movement. We can widen trade union support beyond our current base of UNISON/UNITE. The main rub is how to make inroads into the community issues, assuming that there are organisations already present to work with.