Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 February 2021

Usdaw Broad Left rally brings together those campaigning for a fighting union

  (Click to enlarge)

Joe Waters, Usdaw member and Gloucestershire Socialist Party

Members and supporters of the Usdaw Broad Left came together for a Zoom rally on 2 February in support of the Broad Left's candidates in the upcoming Usdaw shop and distribution workers' union elections for the executive committee (EC) and president.

Socialist Party member Amy Murphy, current president of Usdaw and the first speaker, gave an overview of the situation. She criticised the lack of support from the government, retail companies and the Usdaw leadership for workers during the pandemic and placed the blame on them for allowing retail workers to act as vectors of Covid-19 transmission in their own communities.

Amy proceeded to lay out a programme of action, supported by the Usdaw Broad Left, to improve conditions for workers and save jobs.

The necessity to move away from Usdaw's 'tripartite' approach of primarily seeking good relationships with companies, rather than fighting for the interests of workers, was raised by Amy and many others over the course of the meeting.

Martin Powell-Davis, a candidate for deputy general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) and Socialist Party member, spoke next on the experience of teachers, who recently used collective action to force the closure of schools during the current wave of Covid-19 cases.

The importance of a fighting union leadership to lead workers into struggle against their bosses was referred to repeatedly, and Martin identified this as a vital component in the NEU's recent successes, leading NEU membership to grow as Usdaw's membership numbers continue to drop.

Next to speak was Brian, a former worker at Debenhams in Ireland.Brian was made redundant by the company last year and is now involved in protests to win fair treatment for the discarded workers.

At 300 days, the protest of Debenhams workers in Ireland is the longest in the history of the state. However, Brian relayed frustrations among the protesters that the Irish government, and even Mandate, the union representing these workers, had offered little support.

Ryan Aldred, candidate for Usdaw EC in the South Wales and Western division, and Socialist Party member, spoke last. He decried the treatment of workers, many now classed as 'essential', at a time when many big employers are taking increased profits, and while those workers whose employers weren't able to cash in on the pandemic are facing unemployment.

Ryan made it clear that, if elected, he would continue to stand alongside workers in their struggles against employers, and push for industrial action where companies continue to priorities the interests of their shareholders over the safety and living conditions of their staff.

The attempts of the Usdaw leadership to suppress the role of internal democracy in running the union were also condemned.

Following the main speakers, the rally moved on to contributions from other attendees, who largely expressed frustration with Usdaw for reasons ranging from lack of support over redundancies or mistreatment by companies, to repeated failures to advance rep training for certain members. Among those speaking was Lynn Goodwin, Usdaw EC candidate in the North-West.

All in all, the experiences shared by those at this rally pointed clearly to the need for a fighting leadership in Usdaw, willing to lead workers in collective action to secure decent pay and conditions, and to ensure that no company is able to sacrifice the health of their employees for profit during this pandemic or after.

In pursuit of this change of leadership, attendees were encouraged to vote for any Broad Left EC candidates in their region, and to vote for Andrea Watts, the Broad Left's candidate for union president.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 3 February 2021:

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Launching a political alternative to cuts, poverty and job losses

Why I am attending the TUSC local elections online conference

South Yorks TUSC ready for electoral fight

What we think

Workers' rights and safety: Trade union mobilisation could force more Tory U-turns


Socialist Students open letter to Rent Strike network

Children in care: Privatisation is not working

Multimillion-pound rental firm demands thousands from homeless asylum seeker

Covid outbreak at Kent asylum detention centre: Napier is not fit for purpose

New anti-protest law: State forces want more power to crush the protests that are coming

Workplace news

Usdaw conference stripped of democracy by leadership

Usdaw Broad Left rally brings together those campaigning for a fighting union

Strong union lead needed to stop DVLA Covid spread

HMRC: We demand a pay rise without cuts to terms and conditions

Workers fight British Gas 'fire-and-rehire' plans

Vote Steve Hedley for RMT general secretary

The NEU's 'big announcement' - lessons need to be learned

Yorkshire aerospace workers strike against pay disparity

Workplace news in brief

The Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto - A guide to understanding society, and how to change it


1971: Rolls-Royce crisis - when the Tories nationalised in order to secure the interests of British capitalism

Readers' opinion

GameStop: Billionaires hurt at their own game

The Socialist Inbox

International news

Covid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic

Campaigns news

New members meeting in the South West - preparing for the battles to come

Why I rejoined the Socialist Party

Help us raise the funds to fuel the working-class fightback

Save our square: we need social housing and public services

Stop Labour council's eviction of Stratford Circus arts centre


Home   |   The Socialist 3 February 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleTesco warehouse workers ballot for strike action

triangleTesco warehouse rep fighting for reinstatement

trianglePrivate equity takeover proposals - Usdaw needs to move to a war footing

triangleWorkplace round-up

triangleUsdaw's virtual annual conference - a mockery of union democracy


triangleWhat did you think of Socialism 2021?

triangleRMT to strike in night-tube dispute

triangleLondon couriers take action

triangleAn appeal to trade union members to stand as anti-cuts candidates


triangleSupport uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions

triangleHistoric victory of India's farmers

triangleThe struggle for accessible workplaces and an inclusive society


triangleSelling the Socialist

triangleObituary: Ted Austin (1940-2021) - working-class socialist stalwart

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Tesco warehouse workers ballot for strike action


Higher Education

Support uni workers' walk-out on pay and pensions



RMT to strike in night-tube dispute



Victory! Hackney children's centres saved


Socialism 2021

Socialism 2021: A steely determination to change society



Selling the Socialist



Northampton: Phoney consultation to mask cuts



Slough: Adult service cuts will leave vulnerable homeless



Newham: Durning Hall - another shameful act of Labour gentrification



West Sussex: Payouts for council bosses, cuts for us



Sage care home workers' pay victory



Panasonic workers strike against pay freeze



Midwives march against unsafe staffing and for adequate funding



Birmingham People's Budget


South Wales

Stagecoach drivers win 10.50 an hour

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

November 2021

October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021