Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 2 February 2011

Defend democracy in the CWU

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) national executive (NEC) has scandalously and without precedent postponed this year's NEC elections until after annual conference in May. At the end of conference the union will not have a constitutionally elected executive.

Socialist Party members in the CWU

Socialist Party members take union democracy very seriously. Annual elections are the means by which the members can hold their leaders to account.

Postponing the elections has been justified on the basis of the need for change and for cost cutting, given the decline in membership numbers. There are a multitude of other ways of saving, not least a review of officers' pay, which was agreed at 2010 conference, despite the NEC's opposition.

Large sections of the members are justified in criticising the lacklustre campaign against Royal Mail privatisation. Only now has the union started organising public demonstrations. Their campaign of lobbying MPs, particularly in marginal constituencies, has been totally ineffective. 71 MPs were lobbied but none of them indicated any willingness to vote against it in Parliament.

This lack of fighting leadership has resulted in disillusionment in the union from some postal workers. They took national action in Autumn 2009, in large part to defend the whole CWU from being de-recognised, not just in Royal Mail but in BT and elsewhere, in addition to stopping management attacks on the workers within Royal Mail itself. But the leadership was weak and the result was a three-year deal which produced a pay cut for doing more work.

In the telecoms constituency the leadership has failed to protect jobs and conditions. CWU members currently face a three-year pay deal. This is on the basis of current Retail Price Index (RPI) figures, which means another pay cut in real terms for 2011.

BT have recently announced their intention to update pensions by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than the normally higher RPI. This will increase pensioner hardship amongst our members while 2.5 billion is wiped off the BT pension fund deficit.

And the leadership shamefully allowed the Royal Mail final salary pension scheme to be closed two years ago without so much as a ballot on action in defence of it.

These are all burning issues on which many members believe that the leadership has been found wanting.

But a declining membership is far from inevitable. The CWU can strengthen and grow in this period, when workers need a union more than ever. But only if the union proves it is up for the fight! This attack on the democracy of the union is a block on the methods that members can use to ensure the leadership leads that fight.

A proposal to bring forward the Rules Revision Conference, scheduled for next year, is another example of union rules being manipulated by the NEC.

Socialist Party members recognise the need for change. However, we believe that current union rules should not be overlooked or dismissed during the period of discussions and decision making.

Socialist Party members are prepared to consider proposals to reduce the size of the executive in line with the union's membership. But we need to ensure that there is adequate representation for those members not employed in the traditional sectors. We are implacably opposed to the proposal for biennial executive elections. We believe this weakens accountability.

The leadership's justification for moving to biennial elections is that the union's postal executive have already agreed this. That is their right in a member-led union but it is an arrangement that has much less support amongst telecoms branches.

It is crucially important that grass roots anger at the employers' attacks and the union's lack of fight is translated into building the broad left, which can advance policies that defend our members and stand up to employer attacks.

We demand:

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 2 February 2011:

International socialist news and analysis

Egypt in revolt

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Defend the NHS!: Fight the Con-Dem cuts

The madness of King George cuts

Anti-cuts campaigning

Scottish Anti-Cuts Alliance established

Stop attacks on disabled claimants

Liverpool: Jobs axe must be fought

No to the racist EDL! Unite to fight the cuts

Hands off our forests!

Protesting against all of the cuts

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tommy Sheridan jailing: Political vendetta ends in draconian sentence

John Macreadie memorial

TV Review: Posh and Posher Why Public School Boys Run Britain

Socialist Party feature

'Struggle or starve!' 1932 - when Birkenhead workers beat the means test

Socialist Party youth and students

Young people march for a future

Tories have no solutions to youth crime

Police attack 'save EMA' protest in Leeds

Socialist Party workplace news

Justice for Unison Four

Unison self-destructs at TSA but unionism stronger than ever

Building action against cuts

Defending jobs at Leeds council

Ford challenged in legal bid: Pay the Visteon pensioners now!

Arriva Trains Wales - strike called off

Defend democracy in the CWU

Keep the post public demo

Discussing an electoral challenge to service cutters

Socialist Party Marxist analysis

'In reality, Britain is facing a savage economic ice age'


Home   |   The Socialist 2 February 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleRoyal Mail forced back under threat of action

triangleBT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike


triangleOutrageous sentence for TUSC agent in 'misleading electors' court case

triangleBlairite mayor faces open election after democratic 'irregularities' - fight for a no-cuts mayor

triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleCarlisle debate: The way forward - Socialism or Social Democracy?


triangleBuilding support for Corbyn's anti-cuts policies in the local elections

triangleScene set for TUSC conference electoral debate

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: Local elections 2018 - What should socialists do?

Socialist Party:

triangleLively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference

triangleTremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference

Royal Mail:

triangleSet for national strike action


triangleGerman engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



German engineering strike puts shorter week on agenda - but could have won more



Cardiff Refugee Rights gig success



Nottingham hospital black alert


East Midlands

Lively discussion at East Midlands Socialist Party conference


West Midlands

Tremendous determination on show at West Midlands conference



Successful Socialist Party Wales conference sets tone for the year ahead



Bradford protests against kids' service cuts


May Day

May Day, May Day! Celebrate solidarity!



Labour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget



Save Salford nurseries!



Victory: Pontllanfraith leisure centre saved



Northants council crisis - protesters demand an end to cuts and privatisation



Leicester Uni makes Tory fee tripler David Willetts chancellor - sack Willetts!



Bosses divided - university pension strikes can win!



Chatsworth ward victory shows we can save our NHS

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

February 2018

January 2018