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Posts Tagged ‘John Hannett’

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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Activist 64: #CorbynWins Special

October 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Special issue of the Activist on the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader

Activist 62

Includes articles on Usdaw ADM 2016, BHS crisis, Sunday trading, Retail 2020, Co-op elections amd more

Activist 60: Tesco Pay Deal Special

February 15, 2016 1 comment

Includes articles from retail workers about the Tesco 2016 Pay Deal

Activist 59

January 28, 2016 1 comment

Includes articles on fighting Sunday trading deregulation, Premium Payments, Broad Left Resurgence, Usdaw Backs Young Blairites, Mailbag

Resist Sunday Trading De-regulation

Amongst the many attacks on workers including in the Tory government’s emergency budget is one that will anger many retail workers, further de-regulation of Sunday trading legislation. At present, shops above 3,000 sq ft can only open for six hours on a Sunday.

There is huge opposition to these proposals amongst retail workers, for many Sundays are the only day they know they’ll have an evening off or a later start, especially given the further ‘flexibility’ of contracts supermarkets are now demanding.

In 2012, when the government temporarily suspended Sunday trading laws for the Olympics, Usdaw surveyed over 20,000 members with 77% declaring their opposition to de-regulation and only 12% supporting it. Moreover, under existing laws which give workers an opt-out from Sunday working, many workers are pressured into doing so.

Chancellor George Osborne and others, point to a £20.3bn boost they predict this would give the economy over the next 20 years, although during the Olympic de-regulation retail sales actually fell 0.4% year-on-year. They also point to opening a level playing field for physical retailers with online shops. Yet many of the major stores affected have online outlets now and the major effect of extending supermarket openings on Sundays, would be the further cannibalisation of smaller & independent retailers.

Osborne proposes to devolve the powers over opening hours to elected mayors and local authorities, is clearly a move to attempt to shield the Tories from blame for this, but it is also can be seen as a step towards regional pay and conditions which the government has wished to promote for some time. Additionally if Sunday becomes a normal working day, there could be attempts to remove what remains of Sunday premium payments.

Given this, it is welcome to see Usdaw General Secretary, John Hannett’s comments that the union “…will vigorously campaign against such a proposal…” However, fine words need to be turned into action. As well as encouraging campaigning in stores and high streets against this proposal, Usdaw must call a national demonstration when legislation is debated in parliament, mobilising members and supporters across the country as part of a campaign to build for strike action if necessary.

Activist 55

February 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Includes articles on Usdaw EC elections, Minimum Wage, Scottish Labour Party, Tesco crisis, ADM £10 an hour proposition, John Hannett interview in Progress