CWU: no change at the top

Submitted by martin on 10 August, 2021 - 4:33 Author: A CWU postal member
CWU activists

As expected the elections for the National Executive Committee (NEC) and Industrial Executives of the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) have resulted in the maintenance of the status quo.

All those seeking re-election won, and the small number of genuine left candidates were soundly defeated.

The strength of the HQ bureaucracy is evidenced by the fact that Norman Candy, who was previously PA to General Secretary Dave Ward, got the retired members seat on the NEC unopposed.

The only small glimmer of light is that the equality seats brought some new candidates in, but this will be an NEC that offers no real scrutiny.

In the industrial sectors the postal constituency saw the three candidates from Scotland defeated, leaving the Scots with no representation on that executive for the first time in living memory. This is very bad news for a nation that includes two of the largest and historically more militant branches in the union.

In telecoms the sell out of the long running dispute with BT occurred after nominations closed, but it is unlikely that additional candidates would have emerged given the relative weakness of the activist base.

The 6% turnout could well be the members’ verdict on the behaviour of those paid to negotiate on their behalf. Mind you, the turnout amongst postal members was only 12%.

All this against the backdrop of a union in crisis. The recently published accounts show a further loss of thousands of members and a deficit in the pension scheme in the millions. The failure to hold an annual conference since 2019 has saved a lot of money, but HQ costs remain very high, evidence that the bureaucracy is not shrinking as fast as the membership.

Talk of organising in new areas is just that, and years of retreat in the core industries have inevitably resulted in a reduction in density. If Royal Mail makes good on their threat to end Saturday deliveries, then the viability of the CWU really comes into question given that more than 10,000 jobs would go as a result of this change.

Calling for a new deal for workers whilst embracing partnership with employers is no answer. It is Orwellian doublespeak, and the losers are the members whatever sector they happen to work in.

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