Paddy Lillis Becomes General Secretary Unopposed – Lack of Election Highlights Democratic Deficit in Usdaw

November 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Most active members of Usdaw will be unsurprised to see the announcement that Paddy Lillis will be Usdaw’s next General Secretary. With the high nominations threshold of 25, raised after a grassroots challenger, the late Socialist Party member Robbie Segal, won 40% of the vote in the last election in 2008, it was unlikely anyone would be able to challenge Lillis who is the current Deputy General Secretary of the union.

This election also highlights a democratic deficit in the union – as ordinary members have been denied a debate around the policies put forward by the person in the most powerful position in Usdaw since 2008. Not only that, but as Lillis was elected by a branch vote for his current position of Deputy General Secretary this means he has never faced a national vote by the full membership.

High nomination thresholds are a tool of the right wing to subvert members democratic rights – the right in Usdaw opposed the recent rule changed moved by an Activist supporter at this year’s ADM, which attracted the support of around 20% of delegates, because it would have opened up the possibility of a contested election instead of a coronation, just like the Blairite MPs tried to keep Jeremy Corbyn off the ballot paper via such a threshold in the 2016 Labour leadership election and John McDonnell had been kept off in 2008.

The Activist believes that future ADM should reduce the nominations threshold for General Secretary down to five which would allow Usdaw members to debate the direction they want the leading figures of the union to take us in.

Many members will be glad to see the impending retirement of John Hannett, whose leadership was closely linked with support for the Blairite wing of the Labour Party against those around Jeremy Corbyn including speaking on the platforms of right-wing Labour organisations such as Progress and Labour Friends of Israel. Industrially, members have seen pay decline in real terms, increasingly insecure hours of work and terms and conditions surrendered without a real fight.

It is welcome that at speeches at Usdaw divisional conferences and other meetings Paddy Lillis has been much more positive towards Jeremy Corbyn and the radical policies that were in the most recent Labour election manifesto – many of which have been passed as policy at Usdaw ADMs in the recent period. However, Lillis was also chair of the Labour NEC during the 2016 leadership election that went to court to deny many Labour Party members a vote in that election. Therefore many Usdaw members will be waiting to see how much he distances himself from Hannett’s legacy once this election period is over.

The best way to advance the union in a new direction is to elect a fighting EC in the coming elections to work alongside Paddy Lillis. There are a number of Broad Left candidates standing in the election for EC seats around the country, as well as Broad Left supporter Amy Murphy standing for President. In 2015 with 10 nominations, Amy won 45% of the vote, but with several times that many nominations for the forthcoming elections, many Usdaw members will be working for a victory for Amy and the defeat of the right-wing candidate Barbara Wilson.

Ahead of even an announcement of the election of a new Deputy General Secretary a number of candidates have put their name forward – the Activist will comment further as the various candidates and their policies emerge.

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Usdaw Activist 71

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

Articles include an Argos distribution strike supported by Usdaw members and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) lobby of the TUC Congress in September.

At the NSSN lobby of the TUC, Amy Murphy Usdaw EC member and Activist supporter will join other trade union speakers at the Arundel Suite, Holiday Inn, 137 King’s Road, Brighton BN1 2JF on Sunday 10th September 2017, 1pm. Delegates to TUC Congress and anybody else who can make, especially anyone in nearby regions like Southern and Eastern are welcome.

UsdawActivist71

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Solidarity with Driscolls workers in San Quintin, Mexico – Support the Global Day of Action 16th August

August 14, 2017 1 comment

Workers for Driscolls, the world largest berry supplier, in San Quintin have been organising for trade union rights as well as decent pay and working conditions.Workers currently earn as little as $6 a day for a 12-15 hour work day.

As part of this campaign they have called for a boycott of Driscolls products until the company agrees these demands, with the latest global soldiarity action taking place on August 16th. This campaign has already forced the company to agree a union contract for its workers in Washington State, in the USA.

Driscolls European arm is a supplier to many of the UK supermarkets Usdaw members work for including Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Asda, Aldi, M&S and Waitrose. Therefore support from UK workers in retail and distribution is an important part of fighting for decent working conditions within the retail industry and its supply chains.

Please show your solidarity with these workers by taking a ‘solidarity selfie’ and using the hashtag #BoycottDriscollsContinua. Activist supporters have produced the following poster which can be used.

driscolls poster

Poster for ‘solidarity selfies’ with Driscolls workers in Mexico

Activist 70

Issue 70 of the Activist – includes articles on Tesco pay deal, retail workers from across Europe meet and the NSSN TUC Congress 2017 fringe meeting.

Categories: The Activist Tags: , ,

Tesco’s 10% pay increase accompanied by cuts and job losses

July 14, 2017 1 comment

The headline figure in the result of the latest Tesco pay negotiations is a pay rise of 10.57% to £8.42, in Tesco’s own words its “biggest ever pay award”. And it is far higher than the pay rises of 2% or less that I received when I used to work for Tesco.

Scott Jones, Usdaw East London C026 branch chair (personal capacity)

But in the detail below the headlines it’s revealed that this rise will take place over the course of the next two years, straight away meaning that the increase is actually just over 5% a year. And this increase comes after small or no increases in the last couple of years.

Another blow will be the decrease in Sunday and bank holiday pay from time and a half to time and a quarter, which in Usdaw’s Network magazine for August is flippantly brushed aside with the justification that most companies already pay a flat rate for bank holiday working. And inflation is currently running at around 3%.

So while a pay increase of 5% is welcome, against a backdrop of cuts in terms and conditions, now and previously, this is merely playing catch-up. And while Usdaw members will have different opinions over the pay deal, the fact that yet again Tesco workers don’t get a vote on it means there is no accountability.

And as one Tesco worker commented to me, with the estimated 1,100 potential job losses at its call centre in Cardiff and possibly more at head office, Tesco is moving money around the company as opposed to making a large investment in this offer. An investment it could afford to do, with a rise in operating profit and a £3.7 billion takeover of cash-and-carry group Booker on the cards.

There is no excuse to close the call centre in Cardiff which will be devastating for those 1,100 workers and the local area. Usdaw and the Welsh government should put as much pressure on Tesco as possible. The union in particular should ballot for strike action over this and future attacks on terms and conditions.

The Mandate trade union in Ireland brought Tesco workers out on strike earlier this year after Tesco tried to change contracts and force workers to take redundancy.

Their strike, which was extended and spread with brilliant picket lines throughout the dispute, was an inspiration to workers here and shows what’s possible. Usdaw should look to this as an example in the fight to save jobs, terms and conditions and to secure a £10 an hour real living wage for all.

Activist 69

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Firstly, our condolences and solidarity go out to those affected by the Manchester bombing in which two Usdaw members were the victims.
Secondly, here is Usdaw Activist 69 – featuring articles on the general election, Manchester bombing and a report of ADM.
For PDF see: UsdawActivist69

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Usdaw Activist 68 – ADM special

April 26, 2017 1 comment

ADM special featuring articles on the general election, Usdaw and the living wage and our guide to propositions plus details of the Usdaw Activist fringe meeting.

UsdawActivist68 ADM special

Categories: The Activist