Communication Workers Union meets

Submitted by AWL on 30 April, 2013 - 12:06

At this year's Communication Workers Union (CWU) conference (21-25 April), the union voted to reaffirm previous policy on calling a general strike, and numerous motions that supported those affected by government cuts in welfare and public spending.

A motion calling for support for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was overwhelmingly rejected. Conference agreed to spend more money on getting the Labour Party re-elected in 2015 and agreed a series of demands to take into the Labour Party policy processes, including strengthening rights to take industrial action and improvements in union recognition arrangements. For the first time, CWU agreed a policy position on Europe - in favour of membership of the European Union.

The Conference rejected a rule change that could have paved the way for a reduction of the yearly Telecoms section conference to a biennial conference, and agreed to the first postal-telecoms branch merger. It rejected yet again attempts by a regressive minority in the union to scale back equality structures within the CWU. However, the motion from the CWU Black Workers Conference (for the union to consider reserved seats for equality representatives) was rejected after a heated debate.

At a one-day Royal Mail letters Conference the day after the General Conference, the campaign against privatisation was discussed. The campaign however seems (mistakenly) focused on a boycott of the "competitors"' mail to highlight the unfairness of current regulation in the postal sector. It is as explicit an example of company unionism (albeit a publicly-owned company, for now) as you could get.

At the Telecoms and Financial Services Conference, the main debate was on when to take industrial action in BT on the increasingly draconian "Performance Management" procedures. An emergency motion from the Executive which bought more time for negotiation (despite broken agreements and bad faith from the management for over five years), and then a branch forum to consider action in July, was carried. It knocked out the motions from branches calling for action immediately or ones naming a specific deadline.

Another issue discussed was the problem of increasing casualisation in BT Openreach with more and more contractors being brought in on "Business As Usual" work.

The Conference agreed to a reinvigorated campaign for union recognition in Virgin Media after the so-called derecognition consultation ballot before the sell off to Liberty Global at the end of last year. It was also agreed, against the top table, to give greater priority to recruitment of Sky engineers.

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