Labour Party link dominates conference discussion

Labour Party link dominates CWU conference discussion

Socialist Party members in the CWU

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) 2015 conference started on 26 April in the aftermath of Dave Ward defeating Billy Hayes to become the union’s new general secretary.

Dave’s election campaign had a more critical position over the Labour Party and, on the first day of conference, the major debate was on the union’s relationship with Labour. Socialist Party members were prominent in this debate.

Paddy Meehan from Northern Ireland moved a motion to support anti-austerity candidates in Northern Ireland. But the motion was opposed by the leadership, despite Labour not standing candidates in Northern Ireland, and defeated. However, the motion got a very good response from delegates.

There were many motions on the agenda for the Labour Party debate, including those supporting the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. However, the leadership backed a motion that recognised that the Collins Review changes to union affiliation rules would lead to reduced donations from the union to Labour, but that money instead should go to TULO (Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation).

This really means the money would still go to Labour through the back door. The motion was a device that, when passed, stopped all the other motions being debated.

Labour’s policies

The debate happened just after Labour MP Angela Eagle had addressed the conference to claim that her party was totally different from the Tories.

But, as Judy Griffiths from Coventry said, Labour doesn’t stand for the CWU policies of renationalising Royal Mail and BT, nor will it get rid of the anti-trade union laws. Even though the leadership’s motion was passed, there was a lot of sympathy for Judy’s opposition to it.

The deputy general secretary, Andy Kerr, argued that ‘we shouldn’t be having this debate eleven days before a general election’. But Socialist Party members pointed out that the union’s link with Labour will be further tested after the election, especially if Miliband gets into government.

Dave Ward closed the conference saying that our priority shouldn’t be whether we fight within or outside the Labour Party, it should be about increasing our industrial strength. CWU activists will be concerned that would signal taking the union down a non-political road. However, the last passed motion of conference committed the union to fight for any future Labour government to renationalise Royal Mail.

  • The National Shop Stewards Network held a conference fringe meeting on the theme of stopping union busters. Over 20 delegates attended. NSSN chair Rob Williams went on record as thanking the union for their continued support and Billy Hayes because on his watch the union affiliated to NSSN. Rob also said that the NSSN looks forward to working with Dave Ward.