Transport union meets as Morris bows out

THE TRANSPORT and General Workers’ Union (TGWU) Biennial Delegate Conference (BDC) 2003 will be marked by the election of Tony Woodley as general secretary. As Tony bows in, Bill Morris bows out with his knighthood – the first TGWU general secretary to accept one!

Teresa MacKay, chair of the national committee of the RAAW Trade Group

The conference itself is unlikely to be too controversial, the general executive council (GEC) appear to be supporting the majority of the motions. Key debates will revolve around pension funds, the public sector, transport, employment and the economy, including the euro.

Motion 230 on trade unions and the Labour Party from the RAAW [agricultural and rural workers] National Trade Group, calls for more accountability of TGWU representatives on the Labour Party NEC and to look into the funding to see if we get value for money. A sub committee must report back within six months.

It does not call for breaking the link with Labour, as such motions can only be taken at a Rules Conference. The GEC want a composite (to merge this with other resolutions) but the trade group will reject this.

Several motions call for a national minimum wage of £6 per hour, though the GEC motion calls for £5.11! The latter must obviously be rejected in favour of at least £6.

Most delegates will be looking to the BDC as the starting point for the more open and inclusive TGWU as promised by Tony Woodley in his election.

Before we can have any real change attention has to be focussed on the GEC elections, which will take place at the end of the year.

At the last GEC meeting, a small majority appointed a new regional secretary and regional organiser for Region 3 (Ireland) to replace Mick O’Reilly and Eugene McGlone, who have been disciplined by the union’s right-wing officials.

This is in spite of the fact that none of them had seen the full judgement of the appeals committee, nor had any evidence been presented to show that Mick and Eugene had done anything to warrant a disciplinary hearing let alone demotion.

They have been re-instated on their full salaries but not to their posts. So in spite of the fact there had been no debate on the issue, the GEC carried out the wishes of the out-going general secretary.

Tony Woodley called for Mick and Eugene’s re-instatement but this was lost by the same slim majority.

This is not only a disgrace to the TGWU but also to the trade union movement and these people need to be exposed and replaced in the next elections.

A Broad Left fringe meeting has been organised on Wednesday 2 July, 6pm at the Queen’s Hotel, with Graham Stevenson, Broad Left candidate for deputy general secretary, as well as a Columbian trade union leader.