Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/764/16658
Usdaw ADM - fightback begins
If you attended this year's shopworkers' union Usdaw annual delegate meeting (ADM) you would have been forgiven for thinking you'd walked into a Labour rally.
With leader, Ed Miliband, addressing the conference, the union's leadership were keen to keep down dissent.
They continually reiterated their line that workers' lives could only be improved by the election of Labour in 2015. General secretary John Hannett admitted: "I can't defeat the government".
Yet if Miliband's speech was anything to go by, workers will be offered very little. While speaking 'left', Miliband only proposed two minor positive concrete measures.
One was repealing the Health and Social Care Act, although the previous Labour government's measures meant that most of the Con-Dems' destruction of the NHS could be carried out without it.
The other measure was re-introducing the ten pence tax rate by introducing a mansion tax to pay for it, although many workers will have had their taxable incomes reduced by recent measures increasing tax-free personal allowance.
The only other concrete proposal Miliband had was to reduce energy prices - but instead of re-nationalising the utilities, he proposed introducing even more of a market in energy!
Despite this, Socialist Party members and others were able to move some propositions at ADM which attempted to put forward a fighting programme on crucial issues facing union members such as housing and pay.
The union has now committed to launch a campaign for a living wage for all retail workers, including pressing for this as a minimum in all pay negotiations.
To make this a reality, the bureaucracy will have to feel the hot breath of the membership on their backs.
Socialist Party members, who also produce the Activist bulletin, had the biggest delegation for a number of years, selling 60 copies of the Socialist and recruiting new members.
We will be contributing to the battle for a fighting union for retail and distribution workers.
To subscribe to the Activist, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 8 May 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis