NUT fringe meeting report

The CCC fringe meeting at NUT conference on Saturday went very well indeed. Phil Thornhill, Christine Blower (deputy general secretary) and myself spoke to around 40 delegates, and there was a very positive and interesting discussion. Following that meeting, we have now received pledges from senior officials within the union for help with ensuring that climate change will feature on the main agenda of our next annual conference.

If any of you are organising fringe meetings at your own union conference, please send in a brief report of how it went, and also let me have a list of email addresses of any delegates who wish to be added to our e-list.

In Manchester, we are going to produce a local version of the Heathrow Demo leaflet (which can be downloaded from ) with details of our coaches. If you are able to do this for your own area please let me know. Also, please let me know of any union contingents that you know will be attending the demo.

An issue which might well arise when you raise Heathrow expansion in your union branch is the effect on jobs. Some union leaders have argued that we need to expand Heathrow in order to compete with other European hub airports in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt, and that if we don’t build a third runway tens of thousands of jobs might be lost. My response to that would be that competition never benefits workers, and that instead of competing with our brothers and sisters in those cities, we should be fighting alongside them to resist all airport expansion, across Europe and beyond.

Our government was more than happy to nationalise Northern Rock in order to protect the interests of financiers; perhaps they should consider nationalising the airports in order to protect the livelihoods of those who work in them – by for example cutting hours of work instead of jobs; and by providing retraining and redeployment (with no loss of pay or worsening of conditions) into sustainable industries such as rail. I think this would be a better union response than just going along with the bosses’ drive for ‘competitiveness’ regardless of the environmental cost of doing so.

I am confident that we may well win the campaign to stop the third runway. If we do so it will give a huge boost to all campaigns against airport expansion, including here in Manchester, but also internationally. So please do try your very best to ensure a big union turnout on the 31st May.