Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/297/13896
USDAW conference: Fighting For Low-Paid Workers
THIS YEAR'S shopworkers' union USDAW conference takes place at the end of a horrendous war for oil and influence in the Middle East. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have died and £ billions of taxpayers' money has been spent, whilst the majority of the trade union leaders did nothing!
Robbie Segal, USDAW executive council, personal capacity
USDAW's executive council supported the TUC's call for a second UN resolution. But the president of USDAW told us to participate in the anti-war demonstrations as individuals.
The British National Party (BNP) are standing 200 candidates the local elections in England and Wales. USDAW is helping to teach activists how to answer questions on the doorstep about the BNP and has also affiliated to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.
Yet six years after the election of a New Labour government we have seen little or no improvement for those living in absolute poverty. It is New Labour's lack of a real alternative and its slavish worship of big business that has helped the rise of the BNP.
Conference will debate the change of rule agreed by the executive council relating to contributions. 95% will go to central funds and 5% will remain in the branch.
All training of shop stewards and one conference delegate's expenses will be paid from central funds.
This will be seen as a real attack on the sovereignty of the branches. Most branches' money is already administered by the local union offices, apart from the industrial branches.
We must demand transparency of all accounts so that members see where the officials are spending our money.
USDAW has made representations on the government's pensions green paper. As a union representing low-paid workers, we have seen closures of good final salary schemes and fundamental changes to provision for all members.
Companies have gone into liquidation, leaving pension schemes under-funded. Many companies use our pension funds for their own use.
We must have protection for our deferred wages and a good secure, universal state pension.
We must campaign together with young people to make sure that our retirement is not in poverty.
In The Socialist 26 April 2003: