Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

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 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.

Activist 49

March 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Includes articles on the minimum wage, scottish independence, Fast Food Rights campaign, ADM propositions ruled out of order, Labour’s Collins Review and letters

Vion – Proof We Need A Fighting Leadership.

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

There has been a huge decimation of Scottish food manufacturing this autumn, and Usdaw members have borne the brunt.

A Scottish USDAW member

Both the Halls of Broxburn factory in West Lothian and the Freshlink foods factory in Shettleston have closed with the loss of over 1,850 jobs within a matter of months.

On the 16th of October the news section of the USDAW website reported – ‘Usdaw bitterly disappointed as no credible buyers found for Hall’s’. The factory was closing after a 90 day consultation period between the parent company Vion, Usdaw and the Scottish government, sealing the fate of 1,700 manufacturing jobs.

What wasn’t reported was that during this 90 day process, the Area Organiser concerned wanted to take a delegation of workers over to the Netherlands to protest at Vion’s head office. This would have enabled these workers to have their demands heard by the remote management who are making decisions that are affecting thousands of members’ lives. The response from the bureaucrats at head office was that since Usdaw represents members in other subsidiaries of this company then they shouldn’t go over and rock the boat.

Then on 19th of November the same section of the website reported –

‘Dutch food manufacturer Vion has announced its intention to sell all of its UK food businesses, creating uncertainty for 13,000 employees who work at the company’s 38 UK sites.’

Now that Vion are withdrawing from the UK and there is no boat to rock, whoever held back these workers should hang their heads in shame. Members are being prevented from organising to protect their jobs in order to protect agreements with employers who are only interested in a subdued workforce. The whole approach under John Hannett, of protecting agreements and hoping things will get better under Labour is a dead end. We as members have to claim back our union from the bureaucracy, and demand that this whole fiasco be investigated and the facts be fully reported to the membership.

Activist 35

September 9, 2012 Leave a comment

Includes articles on the General Strike, Scottish Independence, Poverty Pay in Sainsbury as well as several items of Bitesize News