Peoples_Charter_logoThe campaign for the People’s Charter continued to build in Oxford over the weekend as around 50 delegates attended the Oxford People’s Charter Conference, a day of discussion and campaign planning.   The conference, which was supported by Oxford & District Trades Council and the Oxford Morning Star Readers and Supporters, covered a range of topics including nuclear disarmament, public services and defending workers rights.

 

The day began with a session on building ‘A Secure and Sustainable Future for All’, with speakers Kate Hudson from CND and Jolanta Babiuch-Luxmoore from Oxfordshire Racial Equality Council and workshops run by Oxford Stop the War Coalition and Oxford Trades Council Migrant Workers’ Project.

Dr Hudson spoke about the need to press politicians in the run up to the general election and afterwards.

“The main parties are out of step with the people; on Iraq, on Afghanistan, on Trident replacement,” she said.  “The majority are opposed to Britain retaining nuclear weapons.  Our task is to bring about a change in government policy to reflect this.”

The opening session was followed by a discussion on Public services opened by Chris Blakey from the National Union of Teachers executive and with workshops run by two local campaigns: Save Oxford School and Oxford Keep Our NHS Public.

This was followed by a session on workers’ rights and the fight to defend jobs.  Alex Gordon, RMT President, opened the session by outlining the attacks faced by workers and the way in which employers were using the law to try and tie the hands of unions.  He proposed a strong response from the labour movement with unity being the key to success.

“The European Union is imposing a public sector jobs massacre on the peoples of the UK and Europe.  We must stand together as trades unionists and public service users to support the people of Greece who are fighting back against the EU’s Thatcherite cuts agenda and to resist attacks on our schools, hospitals, transport and other public services whoever is in government on 7 May,” Mr Gordon said.

The day ended with a general election hustings hosted by PCS in which candidates were grilled on their support for the policies of the People’s Charter.

Dave Stavris of Oxford Campaign for the People’s Charter claimed the day as a success.

“The conference is a good first step for us as a campaign.  We hope to build on this in coming months to ensure that the People’s Charter is pushed to the top of the political agenda locally.  It represents a real opportunity for people to unite around a set of demands which represent the interests of working people.”

Gawain Little, President of Oxford & District Trades Union Council, said that ODTUC was pleased to have supported the event and would be making the People’s Charter a key focus of the Oxford May Day march and rally this year. 

The march will assemble 12.30pm in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road and march to Bonn Square, central Oxford, where the main speaker will be Mary Davis (UCU Executive / Peoples Charter Steering Committee).