Union democracy

RMT elections: vote Pottage and Hoyle

Elections for the Assistant General Secretary and National President positions are currently taking place in the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT). Supporters of Workers’ Liberty active in the union are backing Alan Pottage (AGS) and Sean Hoyle (National President). The past year in RMT has seen outbreaks of conflict within the union over the application of its rule book and how much power should be held by union officers and staff, as against lay bodies like the National Executive Committee. The former General Secretary Mick Cash retired early, following claims...

After Sharon Graham's election, some immediate ideas to change Unite

Scrap all Regional Secretary posts. Overhaul the Legal Department. End meddling in lay-member democracy by full-timers. Reformat meetings of constitutional committees. Campaign for union policy on scrapping anti-union laws. Review support for the Morning Star. These are the proposals which a motion passed by my Unite branch earlier this month called on the higher levels of the union’s constitutional committees to give consideration to. The motion was passed in the context of, and on the basis of, Sharon Graham’s election as Unite General Secretary. Graham stood on a platform of change, a focus...

Getting issues on the CWU agenda

Having safely navigated its way through a virtual special conference called to discuss equality issues earlier this year, and the biennial National Executive Committee (NEC) elections, the hierarchy at the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has arranged another virtual two-day event starting 7 November. The agenda is restricted to general policy and political issues. This gives activists no opportunity to challenge the partnership approach adopted on the postal side of the union or the recent sell out of the BT dispute. The bureaucracy extends beyond HQ, with a substantial number of regional...

“Worker’s wage” pledge fulfilled

John Moloney (speaking) with Royal Parks strikers When he was just taking office in July 2019, the new Assistant General Secretary of the PCS civil service union, John Moloney, outlined in Solidarity how he would be implementing his pledge to take only a “worker’s wage”. He explained his motivation: “I must stress that my stance on the AGS wage is not that of a hair-shirt moralist. It is political. During the five years of my contract, my take home will only increase in line with that of DWP London EOs [a numerous civil service category, as explained in the article]. Poor pay awards will hit...

More organising, more democracy, more politics: how to push in Unite

On 25 August Sharon Graham won the Unite general secretary election, becoming the first woman to lead the union. Graham got 46,696 votes, with Steve Turner — the favoured successor of outgoing general secretary Len McCluskey — gaining 41,833. Many feared that two left candidates in a First Past the Post election would allow right winger Gerard Coyne to win; in the event, Coyne came third with 35,334. The turnout was around 10% of Unite’s 1.2 million-strong membership. It was 12% in 2017, 15% in 2013, and 16% in 2010. Workers’ Liberty supporters in Unite called for a critical vote for Sharon...

Unite: Sharon Graham's win

Sharon Graham has won the Unite general secretary election, becoming the first woman to lead the union. Graham won 46,696, with Steve Turner - the favoured successor of outgoing general secretary Len McCluskey - gaining 41,833.

Unite: transforming our union

The Unite General Secretary election gave us a chance to talk about what our union, and wider movement, should look like.

Making some ground (John Moloney's column)

PCS annual delegate conference took place digitally on 13-14 June. Workers’ Liberty activists, as part of the Independent Left network, supported various motions to the conference. A motion on full-time officials’ pay, which talked about exploring ways to bring officers’ pay more closely in line with the average pay of members, was defeated, but by a margin which suggests some ground has been made in this debate since last discussed. Similarly, a proposal for the election of all officials was also defeated, but the motion on union structure that was passed included language about exploring...

"We need to develop workers' capacities"

Henry Chango Lopez (pictured above, centre, before the pandemic) is the new General Secretary of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke to Sacha Ismail. In recent years the IWGB has had a high profile in part because it’s grown quite a lot when trade unions in general have stagnated. Why is that? It’s really just about the situation of workers at the moment, the way the economy is, outsourcing, precarious employment – these are problems that many unions have not tackled. Unions do not effectively organise workers in these situations. The problem is so wide...

CWU democracy on hold

Having failed in a previous attempt to move to a biennial conference, the NEC [National Executive] of the post and telecoms union CWU has used the Covid crisis as an excuse to cancel this year’s conference, which would normally take place around the end of April. This means branches will not have an opportunity to shape union policy again until 2022, three years on from the last conference. However, the NEC has announced a one day rules revision conference next month to deal with what it describes as proportionality issues. This is likely to be yet another attempt to dilute democracy in a...

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