Around 100 people packed into the Brighthelm last night for the latest of Unison's "Workers Speak Out" meetings. On the platform were Caroline Lucas MP, Cllr Gill Mitchell (Council Labour Group Leader) and representatives from Unison, CWU and RMT.
But the main point of the meeting was to give local workers the opportunity to speak out about what's happening at work, in "one of the most advanced industrialised nations in the world". We heard from
RMT - fighting for the Brighton train cleaners (those people who collect up all the mess when a train reaches the end of the line) who are about to be privatised by Southern Railways. This is a highly profitable, publicly subsidised company which is threatening offload some of its lowest-paid workers to the vagaries of the private cleaning contractors, some of the worst employers in the world.
CWU - once again having to defend the Royal Mail from privatisation, this time from Vince Cable the (neo) Liberal Democrat......Lib Dem voters take note.
UNISON - preparing a fight against massive planned cuts. Local government is set to bear the brunt of the Government's slash-and-burn policies.
NUT - successfully fighting SATS and campaigning against academies.
There were also messages from the BA cabin crew, who expressed their determination to carry on the fight against their bullying employer, and perhaps the most poignant contribution, from a young worker at call centre Telegen, who explained how the workers were lied to and cheated of their wages before the company went bust.
The politicians were politely received and Caroline Lucas in particular made a good speech, although there was some unedifying squabbling between Green and Labour activists.
Contributions from the floor included representatives from Brighton Against Benefit Cuts, who reminded the meeting of the importance of unity between employed and unemployed.
The meeting agreed to start the campagn against the cuts with a protest on 22 June, emergency budget day. Watch this space!