Amy Murphy, the outgoing president of the fourth-biggest Labour Party-affiliated trade union, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw), has been welcomed as a new member of the national steering committee of the left-wing Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
Amy, who is retiring as union president in April and will sit on the TUSC committee in a personal capacity, said: “The government is continuing with its aggression towards trade unions while big businesses are reaping in the profits with one hand as they viciously attack terms and conditions and inflict pay cuts and freezes with the other. They are culling their workforces, firing and rehiring while hiding behind the pandemic, and with no or very little opposition”.
“So now, more than ever, there is a real need for change. We need an alternative that will politically and socially defend the working class. One which will give a voice to workers, engage with, support, and fight for them, and build on Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist ideas. I believe TUSC is the way forward for the working class”.
The TUSC national chairperson Dave Nellist, a Labour MP from 1983-1992, hailed the significance of Amy’s decision: “This follows the news from the president of the bakers’ union that, in their consultation with members about whether they want to remain affiliated to the Labour Party, only 9% think that Keir Starmer’s Labour is serving their interests now.
“TUSC only agreed in September last year that we would resume contesting elections, starting in this May’s contests in Scotland, Wales, London and the English councils.
“We had wholeheartedly supported Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies and his defence of working-class people against the ‘rigged system’ that serves the interests of the billionaires. We saw his leadership of the Labour Party as creating opportunities to achieve working class socialist political representation on a mass basis.
“But everything about Starmer’s leadership, from his policy retreats praising big business to the continued suspension of Jeremy from the Parliamentary Labour Party, shows that those opportunities are receding.
“So candidates standing in the elections in May who endorse Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension while agreeing to implement austerity measures directed from the Tories in Westminster cannot expect to be unchallenged at the ballot box and we are confident that more and more trade unionists will draw that same conclusion”.
Jared Wood, a national executive committee member of the RMT transport workers’ union officially represented on the TUSC steering committee, said: “Ever since the RMT first formally agreed to participate in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – at our annual general meeting (AGM) in 2012 – we have always stressed the importance of building widespread trade union support for TUSC if it is to effectively contribute to what our AGM motion described as ‘the hard, long-term task of rebuilding political representation for working class people’. Amy joining the steering committee is another important step forward for TUSC”.
Another left-wing former Labour MP, Chris Williamson, representing ‘Resist: the Movement for a People’s Party’ on the TUSC steering committee, said: “Amy’s decision to join TUSC’s national steering committee is a further indication that a political alternative is needed.
“Usdaw has always been very loyal to the Labour Party, so it is very significant that one of the union’s most senior figures has thrown her weight behind TUSC.
“We are building a strong coalition of trade unionists and socialists to give people hope that an alternative to the neoliberal nightmare is possible. People are understandably dissatisfied with the existing political status quo and I’m sure that Amy’s decision will encourage others to follow her example”.