By a CWU conference delegate
AT the postal section of the CWU conference (21-6 May) the plans for tackling Allan Leighton’s attempts to push the liberalisation agenda further in Royal Mail were discussed, but at General Conference which deals with the whole union the issue arose in motions on policy and politics.
There was a negative motion that called for suspension of payments to Labour if the Government backs Leighton on the issuing of shares to staff. It was carried with the support
of the executive as Government intervention on this issue would certainly lead to a review of the CWU-Labour party links.
The problem with the motion is that it is at best a distraction from the battle for hearts and minds within the workplace between the CWU and Leighton, which is where the fight is now taking place. It also failed to acknowledge the political campaign the union has run over the past year, with over 200 Labour MPs signing an EDM in opposition to any form of partial privatisation, including employee shares ownership.
The motion was promoted by a syndicalist faction in the union that sees any political links as suspect. Another political motion discussed was a “disaffiliation-lite” motion for “democractising” the political funds. The motion called for the union to be allowed to support any political party that was in accordance with its rulebook.
After a long debate, the motion was soundly defeated by about five to one. Speakers against called the motion a dishonest call for disaffiliation from the Labour Party (discussed and rejected by Conference four times in the last four years) and also as destroying any meaningful collective involvement of the union in politics.
Other motions carried advocated a campaign for agency workers’ rights (the subject of one of the union’s motion to this year’s TUC and Labour conferences), defence of council housing, opposition to the Turner Commission’s demand to raise the state pension age to 68, opposition to ID cards and campaigning for the rights of women trafficked into the sex industry.