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From The Socialist newspaper, 4 May 2016

Usdaw conference shifts left and demands "backbone"

Blackpool doctors' picket, visited by Usdaw conference delegates, 26.4.16, photo Scott Jones

Blackpool doctors' picket, visited by Usdaw conference delegates, 26.4.16, photo Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members at Usdaw conference

Against a backdrop of attacks on supermarket premium payments and retail job losses, the conference of Usdaw, the shop workers' union, took place in Blackpool on 24-27 April.

On day one, conference passed a motion committing the union to fight to keep these premium payments in the future. As one delegate said: "Let them (the companies) try to impose these changes and we'll show them this union has a backbone!"

A backbone that was decidedly missing during recent pay deals when Usdaw negotiated away these premiums for thousands of workers.

The conference was one of the most eventful in recent history and showed a marked move to the left in the union.

This was heralded even prior to conference when the union's executive overturned Usdaw general secretary John Hannett's recommendations on a number of international propositions, including against Trident.

That Hannett at the conference then went on to give his own view of opposition to these, barely paying lip service to the position of the executive council on the matter, sparked outrage among delegates, including those who agreed with the arguments Hannett was putting.

The Trident proposition was lost but Hannett's actions will have repercussions in the union and will help further opposition on the executive council to the union's democratic defects under Hannett. Branches have written to the EC on the issue.

Junior doctors

There was also significant support for the junior doctors' strike as the union was pushed into paying for transport for over 40 delegates and visitors to support the local picket line in a marvellous and unprecedented display of solidarity.

The conference also passed several motions we had written including for a 10 an hour minimum wage and on the anti-union laws and supported other motions such as on renationalisation and tax avoidance.

We sold 84 copies of the Socialist and raised over 50 fighting fund and held our fourth consecutive conference fringe meeting which was the best attended yet.

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In The Socialist 4 May 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Livingstone suspension: 'Slow coup' against Corbyn.

Bring down the Tories: organise to fight austerity

Doctors and teachers lead buoyant London march

Political censorship used against TUSC candidates

Ex-TUC chief lines up with David Cameron

2 in 5 fear rent trap

Aston Villa owners threaten 500 jobs

TTIP tip-off

Them & Us


1926 general strike

1926 general strike: when workers tasted power


Hillsborough

Hillsborough verdict - a magnificent testimony to courage and fortitude


NUS conference

National Union of Students conference: mood to fight education cuts must be turned into determined action


Socialist Party workplace news

Solidarity with junior doctors: TUC call a national demonstration now!

Museum strike solid

Usdaw conference shifts left and demands "backbone" from the union

Civil service: fighting the pay freeze

Library assistants strike against unviable shift patterns

Society of Radiographers conference: "We may be small but we are going to fight back!"

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Eyewitness account of France protests: build a general strike movement!

Ireland: Campaigners celebrate suspension of water charges


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Letters


 

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