Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/303/13776
Northern Ireland: Socialist To Lead Biggest Union
SOCIALIST PARTY (CWI in Ireland) member Carmel Gates has been elected President of NIPSA, Northern Ireland's largest trade union.
The election at the recent union conference gave Carmel victory with almost 17,000 votes against 11,500 for the right wing candidate. Her vote is one of the largest ever achieved by a candidate for this post.
Another Socialist Party member, Padraig Mulholland, came within a few hundred votes of winning the vice-presidency, standing against a former President and the strongest candidate the right wing could put up.
The conference marked a significant shift to the left. It endorsed the outgoing left executive's decision to donate £40,000 to the firefighters' union FBU, involved in months of sporadic strike action. Only one lone voice was raised against the donation from the floor. Another motion passed backed airport security workers sacked a year ago for striking against poverty wages - a donation to their hardship fund was promised.
The right wing were defeated on a motion trying to reverse the outgoing left executive's decision to cut the amount of travel expenses paid for union executive meetings. The same people who wanted to increase the amount of money paid to themselves in expenses had voted against paying strike pay to social workers currently taking industrial action across Northern Ireland.
On international issues, a motion on the Middle East, which called for a socialist federation of the region, was passed unanimously. This from a union that purports to he non-political!
Unfortunately elections to the general council (Executive) held this January had given the right wing a majority. Now we must use Carmel's position as President and the five other Socialist Party members on the general council to rebuild the left in the union so that it can win a majority in next year's election.
In The Socialist 7 June 2003: