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'When I raised the People's Assembly and the Manchester NHS demonstration, the meeting came alive' reports Mick Wattam

I recently went to the UCATT Yorkshire Region shop stewards meeting for the first time in years. I am no longer in the construction industry but have retained my membership.

Discussion was dominated by reports of the struggle to recruit and fight for members' interests on the sites where very few workers these days are directly employed, but are taken on as self-employed workers with no holiday pay etc. One member present said that, although we are told there is an economic recovery, the building industry is actually knackered. This was met with general agreement from those present.

In spite of this it was clear that they were looking for a way to build these meetings and make them more relevant to members. When I raised the People's Assembly and the Manchester NHS demonstration, the meeting came alive.  When we discussed the People's Assembly, and its role in bringing together different strands of resistance to the government, you could sense how it has the potential to reinvigorate the trade union movement. It offers a way forward from the years of decline and defeat.

As soon as they began thinking about the attacks on building workers as part of a general attack on our class, which if left unchallenged will see us lose our health service etc, it seemed as if the way forward was much clearer. Delegates suggested that we should invite outside speakers into future meetings, starting off with a People's Assembly speaker, to strengthen the connections.

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