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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 April 2018

Usdaw conference 2018

Retail union backs zero-hour ban, leaders oppose rank-and-file coordination

Dozens of delegates walked out to demand proper democratic procedures, photo by Scott Jones

Dozens of delegates walked out to demand proper democratic procedures, photo by Scott Jones   (Click to enlarge)

Ryan Aldred, Usdaw conference delegate (personal capacity)

The left is making steps forward while the right-wing bureaucracy continues trying to hold back struggle at Usdaw's annual delegate meeting (ADM). The 22-25 April national conference of the retail and distribution union is still underway at the time of writing.

The union leadership opposed affiliation to the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) - a rank-and-file body established by transport union RMT and supported by nine national unions.

Every contribution to the debate supported the motion. The leadership admitted its opposition was because Socialist Party members play a leading role in the NSSN.

The vote was clearly 50/50 on a show of hands. But outgoing president Jeff Broome refused a card vote - despite numerous calls and general uproar. About 50 delegates walked out to complain about blatant breaking of the rules.

The protests made to standing orders forced a re-run of the vote. The final result was declared as 42% for, 58% against - a close defeat at the hands of a hostile and cavalier leadership, and clearly justifying the card vote.

The ADM did pass an emergency motion calling on the union's executive council to support workers at Shop Direct. Three distribution sites in Greater Manchester face relocation to an automated site - which could result in the loss of over 2,000 jobs.

The members are preparing for industrial action and were emboldened by the level of support. Socialist Party members called for no relocation, and a shorter working week with no loss of pay.

Usdaw has committed to a campaign to ban zero-hour contracts in favour of minimum 16-hour contracts, except for those who specifically request less. Socialist Party members pressed the importance of not just committing in words but seriously preparing a campaign.

I spoke in support of reintroducing the original, socialist 'Clause IV' into Labour's constitution, which the leadership opposed and defeated. But the ADM did pass a maximum income policy, on a card vote, after the leadership opposed it.

A number of important motions - including supporting the Refugee Rights Campaign - have yet to be decided at the time of writing.

It's apparent Socialist Party member Amy Murphy's election as next Usdaw president has emboldened the left in the union. Iain Dalton of the Socialist Party has also been elected chair of Usdaw's Broad Left, which continues to grow.

At the time of writing, we have sold over 70 copies of the Socialist. Full report to follow - but it's clear support for socialist ideas is rising in Britain's fifth-largest union.

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In The Socialist 25 April 2018:


Local elections 2018

Southampton: the cuts or no cuts election

Sheffield and South Yorkshire: no to closures - defend our NHS


What we think

Tories out!


Socialist Party news and analysis

Windrush scandal: Tories and Blairites must go


Labour and the unions

RMT Labour Party affiliation debate - where do socialists stand?


Workplace news and analysis

McDonald's strikers: "We demand a living wage and decent conditions"

Bromley library workers win strike campaign

School strike forces head to say privatisation will stop

Retail union backs zero-hour ban, leaders oppose rank-and-file coordination

Journalists' union leaders defeat call for political fund, but potential for left grows


Socialist history

France 1968: when workers were on the brink of taking power


International Workers' Day

May Day greetings 2018


 

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Related links:

Usdaw:

triangleNSSN rally: militant trade unionists share ideas to win for workers

triangleShop workers hungry for 10 an hour now and an end to zero-hour contracts

triangle600 more retail jobs on the line: workers must not pay for the bosses' high street crunch!

triangleNSSN conference 2018: Mood for fighting action and coordination

triangleRetail crunch: more giants on their knees - nationalise them now

Retail:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: The high street crisis - a socialist programme for retail

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: A day in the life of a retail worker

triangleTyneside shopfitting plant lays off 61 workers

triangleStrike at Tesco Dagenham for better pay

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triangleNewcastle fans protest against Mike Ashley

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleTurn the heat on the bosses not the bus drivers!

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