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From The Socialist newspaper, 28 May 2008

Usdaw general secretary election: Members want democratic debate

Shopworkers' union Usdaw has announced that the election for general secretary will be held over the summer, when many of the branches are not meeting. This means there won't be the genuine debate that trade union democracy demands.

A London Usdaw member

The results will be declared in September, some seven months before current general secretary John Hannett finishes his five-year term in office. Usdaw's members should be asking why the election is being held so early and why there is no time to fully debate the issues in an open and honest manner.

At the end of 2008, the executive committee and president are up for election, so members should also be asking how much the union could save if the three elections were held at the same time.

Now we have two election periods which will divert resources away from the crucial organising and recruitment campaigns necessary to build our membership.

Rather than a restricted campaign period, there should be a full debate on the future direction of the union. This would help to improve turnout. At the last election just over 14% of the members voted, with John Hannett only receiving 6% support from the membership.

Is the summer election because John Hannett fears debating the issues in front of the members? If he loses, will he resign and move over or will he hang on until his term is up?

He has planned a tour of the country visiting key sites. Let's hope that the same facilities are offered to all the election candidates.

What is needed is a rule change to ensure that future elections are democratic, that there is a long enough period to allow the members to fully participate in the debate and importantly that they cannot be called at the whim of the general secretary.

  • The Activist, the email bulletin of Socialist Party members in Usdaw, will now attempt to raise these issues and ensure there is a debate on the future direction of Usdaw. For copies of The Activist email us your address to
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    In The Socialist 28 May 2008:

    Build A New Workers' Party

    Crewe and Nantwich 'no-win' by-election: Why New Labour lost

    I told my union: "We need a new workers' party"

    Westminster parties are remote from life

    Campaign for a new workers' party: conference 2008

    MPs' expensive expenses

    Socialist Party campaigns

    Tax the rich not the poor!

    Exeter bomb explosion: Workers' unity needed against terrorism, war and deprivation

    Johnson's Prince of Darkness

    Them & Us

    Greenwich - save our centres

    Socialist Party women

    Women welcome abortion rights victory: Now fight to extend rights

    Youth and crime

    Home secretary: "Tough on crime"...but not the causes

    'Youth justice': repressive measures do not work

    Socialist Party feature

    'Counter-terrorism' legislation threatens our democratic rights

    International socialist analysis

    South Africa: Attacks on refugees and migrants reveal capitalism's barbaric underbelly

    Socialist Party review

    The Wire - Reviewed by Michael Wrack

    Socialist Party workplace news

    PCS conference: More battles ahead on pay and jobs

    Usdaw general secretary election: Members want democratic debate

    Industrial news in brief


    Home   |   The Socialist 28 May 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

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