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Posts Tagged ‘John Hannett’

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

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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

 

Usdaw & the Scottish Independence Referendum… Or How Not to Build Working Class Unity

September 22, 2014 1 comment

Friday morning’s result from the Scottish Independence Referendum will have verberations around Usdaw for some time, and not just as a result of how near the Yes vote seemed to come to triumphing.

A last minute e-mail/letter, signed by John Hannett, urging a No vote, has led to a wave of resignations from Usdaw across Scotland. According to reps, one of the union’s offices reported 6,000 members left in the last week before the referendum. This is out of a membership, which was reported as of December 2013 as 45,683 in the union’s most recent Annual Report. A loss of membership from Usdaw of this scale (13%) should give pause for thought for every member as to why this has happened.

Whilst some criticising Hannett’s letter argue on the grounds that the union shouldn’t be advising members on how to vote, the Activist believes trade unionists should have the right to debate and discuss the best way forward on any issue affecting us. However, this must be done in an engaging manner that engages the widest possible layers of the membership before coming to a decision.

To our knowledge, there have only been two times this issue has been discussed officially by the union – both of which were deeply flawed. The first was at ADM in 2010 – where the only contributions on the subject were the mover (who incorrectly stated that Wales joined the union after Scotland – actually it was annexed by England long before), and Hannett himself replying to the discussion. Although also mentioned in Executive Statements in 2013 and 2014, this cannot seriously be taken as being debated as there are no facilities to amend or oppose such statements at ADM.

The second time was at a Scottish divisional conference in early 2014 where, as we commented at the time in the Activist, the only speaker was Alistair Darling on behalf of Better Together. Whilst that led to an 82% vote in favour, many members abstained in protest at a procedure that was hardly a model of democracy.

An indication of how unrepresentative this was of at least a proportion of members was shown by a debate reported on newsnetscotland.com. A branch representing IKEA workers in Glasgow held a debate with speakers from within the union on both sides – after a democratic debate the meeting took a vote. Not a single person voted No, with 82.5% favouring Yes and the rest being Don’t Knows. This however, was the only debate we are aware of taking place – in these circumstances we have to ask if such debates of these had been organised in the union prior to an official stance taking place would we be seeing such large numbers of members leaving?

It’s all very good for John Hannett in press comments on the result ‘We must now move on together to focus on campaigning to improve workers lives across the whole of the United Kingdom.” If he really wanted workers to move forward together then its was encumbent upon him and the rest of the union’s leadership to have ensured a democratic debate on this crucial issue throughout Usdaw – if we fail to move forward together then the fault can be put at the feet of Hannett and his clique.