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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 April 2018

Usdaw conference 2018: time for a new era of fighting trade unionism

President-elect Amy Murphy writes for the Socialist

Usdaw protest Amy Murphy, president-elect second from left, photo Usdaw Activist

Usdaw protest Amy Murphy, president-elect second from left, photo Usdaw Activist   (Click to enlarge)

Amy Murphy, Usdaw president-elect (personal capacity)

Being elected as president of Usdaw, the shop workers union, was probably one of the proudest days of my life and I cannot thank everyone enough for the fantastic support and encouragement I received in my campaign.

I am truly humbled by the trust and confidence placed in me to take up this role, and I will continue to fight on behalf of members. Elected on my campaign and policies for change, I believe there are many areas that need addressing and are long overdue.

Now more than ever, with restructures, erosion of premiums, redundancies and constant attacks on our terms and conditions, Usdaw must work harder to ensure that these threats are pushed back. We need to take a stronger line with the companies we work for and deliver for our members.

With more than 5.2 million low-paid workers in the UK, many of which work in retail, it is imperative that we campaign for a 10-an-hour minimum wage for all workers, with no exceptions. An estimated 905,000 people are on zero-hour contracts, that's 2.8% of people in employment, which equates to one in 35!

Research also shows that one in ten workers are in precarious jobs, including the gig economy, with less access to sick pay, redundancy and job protection. Those on zero-hour contracts earn a third less than average employees.

We need more secure, regular, full-time hours and no zero-hour contracts. I strongly believe that to achieve this we need to make agreements that work better for our members than the partnership approach currently does.

We need to support our members who want to take industrial action in defence of pay and conditions as Usdaw members at Tesco Dagenham distribution centre have voted to do - 70% on a turnout of 62% - for better pay. With Tesco seeing a massive rise in profits we should demand more and begin to claw back the conditions taken away from us.

I am also in favour of working together with other trade unions, campaigning together for common goals, making our collective voice heard. With a combined membership of 6.2 million the trade union movement could and should be a real force to be reckoned with by Theresa May and the Tory government. Let's be united not divided.

By working together with and putting pressure on the new Usdaw leadership, I am hopeful that the above can be achieved and Usdaw can be a fighting union armed with the policies that I campaigned on.

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