Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/6302

Posted on 21 July 2008 at 0:00 GMT

Vote 'no' to Unite's new rule book

Members of Unite, the union formed through the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), are currently being balloted on the proposed rules accepted by its joint executive council in April.

Kevin Parslow, secretary, Unite branch 1/1228, personal capacity

This vote takes place against the background of Unite members organising some high-profile and successful strikes, such as the Ineos pensions' dispute at Grangemouth and the Shell tanker drivers' strike. Unite members were also on strike on 16/17 July against low pay in local government and have overwhelmingly rejected the NHS pay offer.

Despite this, Unite has been the biggest donor to the Labour Party in recent months.

The new rules have been drafted for the full merger of the union. But they reflect more the period we are leaving, of stagnating membership and low strike activity, coupled with the trade unions' historic support for Labour, than the period we are beginning to enter, where militancy is on the rise and workers are increasingly turning their backs on New Labour.

The proposals put Unite even further behind the pro-big business Labour Party than ever before, and restrict political activity to a mere handful of its two million members, at a time when members are facing privatisation, cuts, and pay restraint, totally at odds with the union's policies.

The socialist clause in the TGWU rule book has been deleted. The provision in the Amicus rules for the election of regional and national full-time officials has gone. The general secretary will be the only elected full-time official of the new union. Youth members will only have observer status on union bodies whereas they were full members of committees in Amicus.

Further, the rights of branches to have their own policies will be curtailed. No motion shall be "submitted by or on behalf of the union or any group or body within the union to an organisation or body outside the union if that motion is inconsistent with existing union policy".

Any "representative of the union at a meeting of an organisation or body outside the union... shall speak and vote in accordance with the policy of the Union".

But it is the section on "Political Organisation - The Labour Party" which will cause the most disquiet. The formation of "Regional and National Political Committees" is proposed, "composed of individual members of the Labour Party to co-ordinate the union's work in the Labour Party". This thin layer of Labour Unite members will decide the political orientation of the new union.

To ward off discontent over the link with Labour, the Unite leaders propose a 'Warwick II agreement' as a follow up to the 2004 Warwick Agreement, which New Labour has only partially fulfilled. In 2008, the unions' demands are even more limited and Gordon Brown now says there will be no changes to the anti-trade union laws, long demanded by Unite and other unions.

Socialist Party members are in favour of 'political trade unionism'. But this cannot be achieved by hoping for crumbs from the New Labour table. Socialists and trade unionists are now at a stage similar to that of the 1890s, when many union leaders tail-ended the capitalist Liberal Party, to try and receive a few reforms, while socialists fought tenaciously for the trade unions to set up their own party to represent their interests.

We have come full circle, with many union leaders coat-tailing New Labour in the same way. The suggestion made by some PCS civil service union leaders that there should be a conference to discuss political representation for the working class should be urgently taken up inside Unite as well.

Socialist Party members are advocating a 'no' vote in the ballot on the new rules. We are not opposed to the merger; we support it as a step to improving the strength of working-class organisations but we warn against the new rule proposals. Recall conferences of both sections of the union to discuss the proposals should have been organised before the ballot. Should the rules be defeated, emergency conferences must be called to discuss the reasons why and to propose amendments.

If they are passed, then we would urge all members angry at them to stop paying into the political fund until we no longer give it to a pro-capitalist party. Socialist Party members and others will launch a campaign for changes to the rules, particularly those on political affiliation, for the 2010 rules revision conference. If the union's position on recent industrial disputes is to continue then it must logically take on New Labour, with its anti-trade union laws and its policies on pay and privatisation. This cannot be served by the proposed constitution.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Unite:

triangleWales: Hundreds march to save the Orb works

triangleBirmingham HS2 protest against bosses' attacks on trade union organisation

triangleLincolnshire health visitors strike boost

triangleStudents and workers unite against fees, low pay climate change

triangleLeeds pensioners occupy BBC to save free TV licenses

Labour:

trianglePCS union - A reply on political strategy

triangleTony Mulhearn 1939-2019: Courageous fighter for the working class and socialism

triangleMass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

triangleCorbyn must stand firm against establishment and Labour right

Labour Party:

triangleTony Mulhearn 1939-2019

triangleStanding up for the needs of working-class people

triangleCentral task is to force general election and elect Corbyn-led Labour government on socialist policies

Pay:

triangleMinimum wage debate: how can we end the scandal of low pay?

triangleNewham sixth form college picket line, 17th October 2019, photo by Scott Jones

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

16/10/19

Postal workers

Massive vote for strike action: - "We're out to win!"

16/10/19

PCS

General secretary election: Marion Lloyd - standing for action on members' pay, jobs, pensions and more

16/10/19

Socialist Party

Be part of the future: join the Socialist Party

16/10/19

Waltham Forest

Mass union mobilisation needed to counter anti-choice group

16/10/19

Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance

Pressure needed to force secret police disclosure

16/10/19

Climate change

Trade unionists discuss climate change

16/10/19

National Education Union

NEU support staff dismiss Tory 'extra funding' hype

16/10/19

Hackney

Hackney SEND transport workers achieve victory

16/10/19

RMT

RMT: Jared Wood - Fighting cuts, defending jobs, pay and conditions

16/10/19

Wales

Wales: Hundreds march to save the Orb works

15/10/19

Derbyshire

Flooring workers strike, Derbyshire

9/10/19

Caerphilly

Attacks on Caerphilly waste management workers

9/10/19

PCS

BEIS: Outsourced caterers' indefinite strike victory

9/10/19

York

York freshers success

9/10/19

Leeds

'The little people can win' - Leeds tenants push back demolition

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

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999