Submitted by Anon on 18 June, 2003 - 1:02
  • Time to organise labour representation
  • Underground pay referenda: Vote No!
  • TGWU: why Dromey won
  • University lecturers
  • Support John Page
  • Vote Agenda for Change

Time to organise labour representation

By Maria Exall

At the Socialist Campaign Group Rally at Labour Party Conference Mick Rix called for trade unionists and Labour Party members to unite to ensure that the voice of labour was heard in the Labour Party.

The idea of labour representation, the very idea on which the Labour Party was founded, is as necessary now as it was in 1900. The voices of working class people are mainly absent from mainstream politics. This is in no small part due to the New Labour project and its suppression of political trade unionism.

A new Labour Representation Committee needs forming. Plans are underway to develop a shadow steering group to call a Labour Representation Conference.

This conference needs to be able to attract trade union delegates who do not see the point of going along to their local Labour Party meetings to be lectured to by the resident Blairite MP on winning over the business community or the necessity of public service "reform". It needs to attract people opposed to tuition fees and those who were opposed to the war on Iraq. Many ordinary Labour members oppose the Government on these issues. And this conference needs the support of the unions that united at Labour Party conference to defeat the Government on Foundation Hospitals and the rule change to encourage more debate at the Party conference.

The conference will need to develop a Labour alternative to the current Blairite agenda for the Labour Party. But most of all it needs to develop the networks to†organise for the policies on which the trade union movement and the majority of Labour Party members agree.

It is a good thing that trade union leaders, Socialist Campaign Group MPs and constituency grassroots organisations such as the CLPD, the Socialist Campaign Group Network and Labour Reform are coming together to form an alternative way forward for the Labour Party. However, work needs to be done at a local level. We need to set up local Labour Representation Committees where trade unionists can meet together and discuss solidarity work and local campaigning as well as ensure the voice of organised labour is heard in local constituencies. There should be coordination with local campaigns and with local unions that are not affiliated to the Labour Party, some of whom may be Labour Party members.

We saw at this year's Labour Party Conference that when the trade unions unite on a progressive agenda for working class people they can win popular support. Trade union leaders and activists should not hold back from organising to represent politically the aspirations of the working class.

University lecturers

Following industrial action, and in some cases simply the threat of industrial action, a number of local associations of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) have been offered small increases in London weighting. The union's claim in pre-1992 universities was for an increase from £2,134 to £4,000 London weighting, but the employers initially offered 0% increase. There had been no increase since 1992. In September, AUT in many London universities joined NATFHE and Unison members - also claiming £4,000 London weighting - in strike action during the enrolment period. AUT members at King's College, the Institute of Education and Birkbeck have now accepted a two-year deal: a £100 one-off payment, and from 1 August 2004 consolidation of the £100 plus a 4% increase. This still only brings London weighting to £2,323 a year. Staff in other universities are considering comparable offers; but others have had no improved offer.

Support John Page

By Janine Booth, President, Hackney Trades Union Council

John Page continues to fight for reinstatement following his sacking by Hackney Council for drafting a report exposing racism in the Council.

His appeal against dismissal is on 14 November, and Hackney TUC is planning a major public meeting exposing the Borough's racism two days beforehand.

Hackney Council has dropped all charges against Brian Debus and Will Leng, the other two UNISON branch officers who were disciplined alongside John. It seems clear that all along, the Council's aim has been to rid itself of John, an effective and determined anti-racist union representative.

The Commission for Racial Equality is currently checking out Hackney Council's progress in eliminating racism, after it issued the Council with a ënon-discrimination notice' two years ago. One issue that the CRE might uncover is that over the last decade, the Council has failed to discipline a single manager found by Employment Tribunal to have discriminated against workers.

Even if John wins at Tribunal, the court can not force the Council to reinstate him. Only a big campaign by the workforce and the wider community can do that. Hackney TUC is working to encourage and co-ordinate that campaign.

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