Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/773/17080
Strong support for fighting socialist alternative in CWU
Gary Clark, CWU assistant branch secretary, Scotland No.2 branch, recently stood for election as Scottish regional secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU). He received a tremendous result: 816 against the incumbent's 981, which is a 45% vote for a fighting socialist leadership. Gary, a member of the Socialist Party Scotland, the Socialist Party's sister party, explains the campaign and the reasons for his excellent result.
The existing regional secretary, John Brown, has been in the job for the last ten years. He has been unchallenged over this period. But he is clearly viewed as pro-New Labour and someone who would not wish to challenge the union's affiliation to Labour, no matter what was happening to our members and no matter what policies the Labour Party took up.
Against this background my branch, Scotland No.2, took the decision to stand myself as a clear socialist and a fighter on behalf of the membership against him.
Postman Pat joins the CWU picket line in East London, photo Naomi Byron
We wanted to put forward a programme to defeat Royal Mail privatisation and defend our members' terms and conditions.
From the very start of the election it was clear that the right wing was going to do anything to stop me getting elected.
We even got a leak that some within the CWU national office were trying to block my nomination because I was not a Labour Party member.
Almost every branch in Scotland, except two small postal branches, put forward recommendations for John Brown, so we knew this was always going to be a difficult election for us.
But we were confident that our message of fighting back would get an echo among our members. For the first time the election was based on one member, one vote. Previously it was on a branch ballot, where a branch would cast a block vote on behalf of its members.
I took a week's leave to do a speaking tour around the offices in my branch area. (CWU rules state you can only canvass within your own branch).
And my election statement went out to all members.
Just before the end of the election we got word that the right wing had put complaints to the CWU national office about my campaign. That gave me confidence that they were on the back foot.
The result is a warning shot that our members are looking for a change.
That will not stop now the election is over.
In The Socialist 10 July 2013:
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review