Archive for CWU

Labour and CWU: Just a lovers tiff?

On Wedneday I posted the news that the London branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) voted overhwhelmingly in an indicative ballot to no longer fund the Labour Party. Socialist Worker believed that other branches were planning similar indicative ballots to speed-up CWU’s conference decision to ballot the national membership over whether or not it should continue to fund Labour.

On Wednesday at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton delegates voted to back the CWU’s call for ‘the government to take immediate steps to take responsibility for the Royal Mail pensions deficit.’ The emergency motion was seconded by Unite joint General Secretary Tony Woodley. Conference’s support of the motion would add pressure to those inside the Labour Government who still desire the part-privatisation of the service.

The Socialist newspaper this week carried an article whereby which they have laid the charge that the Government intends to smash the CWU union much in the same way Thatcher broke the miners in order to speed-up the ‘modernisation’ of that industry. The article said:

The biggest obstacle to privatisation has always been the postal workers’ union. This dispute is not about modernisation or combating so-called “Spanish practices”, it’s about Royal Mail and the government trying to smash the CWU to create a casualised workforce that any private buyer can use as they please.

Conspiracy or not? Well, I have it on good authority that the Government had already found a buyer for the proposed plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail and that the deal had already been signed before a bill was due to come before Parliament. I can reveal that the deal was supposedly signed with TNT and was kept in a safe until the bill passed through Parliament.

CWU members have until 8th October to cast a ballot in favour of national strike action over Royal Mail’s plans to modernise the service. The union is calling for a ‘yes’ vote and hopes that it can be consulted by the Government and Royal Mail over proposed plans to change the service.

Time is running out between Labour and the CWU to resolve the conflict. Unless the Government can bring the CWU leadership on board with the consultation process on the changes then the CWU has the potential to bang a couple of more nails into Gordon Brown’s coffin. What is perhaps most worrying for the Labour leadership is that the CWU leadership still has an ace up its sleeve- it can honour the conference decision to ballot the membership on the continuation to fund Labour.

If the next national strike is a messy one, and if Billy Hayes cannot be satisfied by any offer Royal Mail brings to the table, the CWU leadership would have no choice but to reveal its ace card and to pull the plug on Labour. It would almost be certain that unless the Government can appease the CWU it’s membership would most likely vote in favour of ending the CWU-Labour link.

The drama is certain to continue.


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The end of the Labour-CWU link?

It was the story that has been pretty much missed by the mainstream press and mainstream blogs, the London branch of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) has voted to no longer supply funds to the Labour Party after the results of an ‘indicative ballot.’ Only Bethan Jenkins AM has picked up the story.

Next week CWU will announce plans for a ‘consultative ballot’ of members in relation to it’s affiliation with the Labour Party. It is not yet clear the exact proposition of the ballot but it is likely that it will be a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on maintaining it’s affiliation to the Labour.

There have been rumours for some time that the Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the CWU, has been contemplating such a ballot of it’s membership. In some ways the ballot can be seen as a referendum on the direction of Hayes’ leadership of the union and his ousting of pro-Brown opinion inside the union.

There has been little in the way of rumour in how Billy Hayes would like to see CWU’s political fund allocated. It is unsure whether he would consider going down the same path as Bob Crow and establish some kind of British ‘Die Linke’, or instead go with the PCS and FBU option of supporting individual candidates.

For some time I have been of the impression that the CWU represents a major unifying force for any radical-left challenge to Labour in British politics. CWU has a giant political fund that could potentially sustain a left-of-Labour electoral challenge from the non-affiliated trade unions backed up by one or two soft-far-left parties. My personal preference would be to see CWU throw it’s weight behind the Greens in England and Plaid in Wales, but the Green-trade union link is weak in comparison to the links non-affiliated trade unions have to the non-mainstream left, despite the Greens pro-worker policies.

We could well be seeing the break-up of the Labour-CWU link soon.


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