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FOUR MEMBERS OF THE ‘USDAW GROUP OF MPS’ QUIT LABOUR IN ANTI-CORBYN SPLIT – CORBYN MUST LAUNCH STRUGGLE TO KICK OUT BLAIRITES AND FIGHT FOR SOCIALIST POLICIES

February 20, 2019 Leave a comment

Since this article was originally written an 8th Labour MP, Joan Ryan, has quit to join the ‘Independent Group’. She is yet another member of the Usdaw group of MPs.

Many Usdaw members will have been unsurprised to see the long-awaited split of some Blairite MPs away from the Labour Party finally manifest itself as the Independent Group in parliament of 7 MPs.

These MPs have been firmly hostile to the leadership of Labour by Jeremy Corbyn, and his radical manifesto in 2017, that put forward many of the demands that trade unionists have been making for including a £10 an hour minimum wage, renationalisation of the railways, a mass council house building programme and more.

Corbyn’s repeated victories have been followed with a strengthening of the left on Usdaw’s EC and the beginnings of a more combative policy to fight for our members interests.

Instead these Blairites wish to take us back to the past with neoliberal policies and support for austerity, as expressed in their statement of their views

“Britain works best as a diverse, mixed social market economy, in which well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress and where government has the responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayers’ money and a stable, fair and balanced economy”

If these MPs had remained within the Labour Party they would have continued to fight for such positions and sabotage a Corbyn-led government from implementing its programme.

Therefore it was entirely correct for those on the left within Usdaw to have argued at the 2017 ADM for support for mandatory reselection so that such MPs could have been challenged by the members rather than being able to leave on their own terms.

The seven are far from the only Labour MPs who share their views, with the majority of Blairite MPs still being of the opinion that it is better to attack Corbyn from within the Labour Party. And while they remain, Usdaw’s socialist president Amy Murphy has been recently expelled from Labour!

Usdaw members will be alarmed that three of the new Independent Group are members of Usdaw’s parliamentary group, Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey, the latter being the former Secretary of the group.

Usdaw should immediately withdraw any financial or other support from these MPs. But it also raises questions about why the Usdaw group of MPs includes people who are so clearly hostile to policies passed by our ADM.

Corbyn should withdraw the whip from any MP who helps to prop up the Tories.

These events make even clearer that what is needed to consolidate the victory of Corbyn in two leadership elections is the refounding of the Labour Party, restoring a socialist clause in its constitution and the collective rights of trade unions and opening it’s doors to all groups who wish to join

Sunday Trading Extension Defeated

March 10, 2016 Leave a comment

Retail workers up and down the country will be celebrating the government’s defeat of its plans to devolve Sunday Trading to local authorities. A majority of 31 voted down the government’s plans including 27 Tory MPs.

Cameron’s reaction to the vote has been to declare that the plans are “dead in the water”, but a number of Tory MP’s have argued that the votes of the SNP, who opposed the changes, should not count given the new English votes for English laws provisions. Scotland already has longer Sunday Trading.

This factor, means that despite the Tories saying they will not reintroduce these proposals, if the government brings in limitations on Scottish MPs to vote on ‘English’ matters and with pressure from big business, may yet appear again. The vote on 9 March was, after all, the third attempt by the Tories to introduce such measures in the last five years.

Clearly the vote is a great result for Usdaw members’ hard work in campaigning and lobbying in opposition to this vote. But given the vast majority of the big, urban local authorities are controlled by Labour, then serious opposition at that level, a refusal to use powers if granted to extend Sunday trading, could have made this ‘dead in the water’ before now.

The task now is to use this victory to give confidence to organise retail workers to halt the attacks on terms and conditions, particularly premium payments that were stepped up in advance of this legislation possibly coming in. Mobilising an active campaign for the TUC demand of a £10 an hour minimum wage, while defending hard won premium payments and campaigning for a minimum of time-and-half for all working on Sundays, must be the goal of Usdaw and other retail unions.

Usdaw Leadership Over-rides Young Workers Committee in Labour Youth Elections

December 1, 2015 Leave a comment

Elections to the committee of the Young Labour are perhaps not something at the top of the mind of most Usdaw members. However, members will undoubtedly be suprised that Usdaw’s leadership has ignored views of it’s own Young Workers Committee and nominated two Progress supporting candidates for the chair & NEC of Labour Youth.

At a recent Usdaw Young Workers Committee meeting, those attending were told that ‘it would be inappropriate’ for them to discuss the issue. But this isn’t the only time their views on specific youth events have been bypassed. Motions to the TUC Young Workers conference which Usdaw delegates are expected to move are not written by them with consultation only on the broad subject topic. It begs the question, what is the point of having such a body if you almost totally ignore that body’s wishes?

Of course, it could be argued that the young workers committees aren’t elected. Divisional young workers committees are appointed by divisional councillors from those who put their names forward, with a national young workers committee elected from those bodies having one representative each.

But the leadership aren’t proposing any sort of change to those structures – it’s as if they want the kudos for involving young workers, but without allowing those young workers any responsibility at all.

The Activist would like to see the enhancement of democracy in the union’s youth structures. We would like to see elected young workers committees, a young workers rep on the EC (where despite the huge number of young workers in retail there isn’t a single EC member under 27) and the creation of a youth conference where policies can be discussed, including what motions are put by the union to external youth bodies (with the proviso that is doesn;t contravene ADM policy).

But the selection of two Progress supporting candidates by Usdaw’s leadership, as opposed to the left candidates favoured by the Young Workers Committee, also shows that they are part of the campaign to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party by placing those hostile to him in positions of power.

The best way that Usdaw members can fight to stop this, is by campaigning for the passage of policy backing the platform that Corbyn was elected on at Labour Party conference and advancing the case for the democratic control and accountability we need to see to ensure Usdaw has a union leadership that fully represents its members.

Activist 50 – ADM 2014 Special

Latest issue of the Activist – a 50th issue special for Usdaw ADM 2014

Includes articles on zero hour contracts and the Activist’s guide to ADM 2014