The Communication Workers′ Union (CWU) conference met on 22-23 April, with sector conferences following.
At the general conference one of the big issues debated was the Windrush scandal, and the union overwhelmingly expressed its solidarity with Windrush migrants and their families.
Unfortunately this compassion from migrants did not last into the same afternoon when a motion calling for the CWU to affiliate to the Labour Campaign for Free Movement fell heavily. The union made sure it was tailing the Labour leadership′s position on the response to Brexit and free movement. General Secretary Dave Ward spoke against the motion,claiming it was “about pushing Labour beyond where it is now”, and “about elevating above any other consideration the free movement of people.”
On a more positive note there was a debate on pushing forward with the union′s already existing policy on the public ownership or post and telecoms. The union now needs to make sure it gets further commitment on this in the next Labour manifesto. Corbyn also spoke at the conference and was well received.
The CWU ratified the decision to affiliate to Momentum, which was overwhelmingly carried. Although there were criticisms of Momentum, the overwhelming feeling was it was better to be involved.
Discussion was also held on the redesign of the union. The current leadership is looking to change how the union is organised, there were some good contributions on maintaining a lay organisation and particularly getting young members involved. There will be a special conference in the Autumn to make decisions on the redesign. It is likely that any moves to cut back on democracy, for example by moving away from annual conferences or to more appointed officials, will be opposed by members.
The telecoms conference, which happens from Tuesday 24 April, will be meeting in the shadow of a controversial deal on the closure of the BT pensions scheme.
Debate on the scheme is unlikely to overturn the deal but it may see significant opposition.