The Socialist 7 June 2007 |
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Delegates attack link with Labour
The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) general conference in Bournemouth this week was a platform for highlighting the frustration, anger and determination to fight back by postal workers, engineers and other communication workers.
A mood of confidence in a 'yes' vote for strike action [which was to be announced at conference after we went to press] was prevalent amongst the postal delegates. They fully recognise that Royal Mail want to drive down their wages even further and continue to attack jobs and conditions.
At least 14 motions attacked New Labour's abysmal record in office. Those delegates arguing, unbelievably, to convince CWU members to join the Labour Party in order to influence policy are getting less and less of an echo each year, as reality hits members in the face.
Socialist Party member Judy Griffiths was loudly applauded when moving a motion condemning New Labour's "destruction of a publicly owned health service" and she urged delegates to attend the NHS national demo on 13 October.
The national executive (NEC) was heavily censured by conference for giving the union's support to ex-general secretary Alan Johnson for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. This NEC decision was reversed overwhelmingly by conference.
So disgusted was one member at the prospect of the CWU giving official support to a candidate who supports the modernisation plans of Royal Mail boss Alan Leighton, that he said: "It's like cooking a fry-up for the bailiffs before they take away your cooker".
Another delegate claimed that Dave Ward, deputy general secretary, had said some weeks ago that: "we would support a lamp post before Johnson." To huge cheers, delegates wanted to support the lamp post.
This one-hour battering of the NEC and of general secretary Billy Hayes, who cringingly defended Johnson, meant that unfortunately motions to break the union's links with Labour were not taken yet again.
Clive Walder, addressing the successful Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) fringe meeting, commented that if members were able to have a vote on disaffiliating from the Labour Party, there would be absolutely no doubt which way the vote would go. "That's why it keeps getting manoeuvred off the agenda every year" he complained.
Socialist Party members, including Bernard Roome, Gary Jones and Steve Fawcett consistently put forward a fighting socialist alternative. Our programme, particularly for a new workers' party, is receiving increasing support.
In the first two days we sold 34 copies of the socialist, and raised £435 Fighting Fund as well as meeting potential members and supporters for the Socialist Party and the CNWP.