by a TGWU member
Supporters of the Broad Left have won a decisive victory in the elections for the executive of the Transport and General Workers Union. The group of right-wingers, Stalinists and careerists centred upon John Aitkin and Barry Camfield has now been firmly defeated, giving the left a majority of 29 to 8 (with 3 not aligned to either group) on the union’s General Executive Council.
John Aitkin himself failed in his bid to get back onto the executive, as did his leading supporter Geordie Landles, despite having the support of the Region 1 (London) “machine”. The Marxist Tom Cashman defeated Landles by campaigning at rank and file level for a strong, industrially-based union.
These results are a decisive, crushing defeat for the corrupt, Stalinist grouping that has held sway over the T&G for many years. It is a victory for the honest (though mainly reformist) left, and augurs well for chances of a merger with Amicus and the GMB, in which the vested interests of the GMB and T&G regional barons will be overridden and industrial organisation will take precedence.
However, it must be of concern that the turn-out for these elections was only about 10%: the major priority for the T&G left must now be to engage the membership and ensure that the new “super-union” (due to be formed by 2007, according to T&G General Secretary Tony Woodley) is democratic, lay-member led and industrially-based.