News reaches us of an attack from the CWU’s main conference in Bournemouth on the Trade Union Solidarity. A motion proposed by their ‘Race Advisory Committee chair’ Angela Green committed the union to campaign alongside other TUC affiliates to oppose official recognition of Solidarity as a trade union and to oppose any attempts by it to affiliate to the TUC. It was passed unanimously to loud “Baas” from the delegates fed misinformation. Needless to say no representative of Solidarity was invited to put any counter-argument. Principles of Natural Justice seem alien concepts at such events!
As Solidarity is already officially recognised and has no inclination to affiliate to the TUC the purpose of the motion is unclear. Perhaps they intend to collude with employers or the Certification Officer in vain attempts to deny the right of Solidarity members to be represented in the workplace?
The CWU also sought to brand members of Solidarity “scabs” and that warrants an answer. Many members of Solidarity are long-standing Trade Unionists. None of them have ever crossed a picket line. What then is the justification for use of this emotive and highly defamatory term? Members of Solidarity will respect the picket lines of other Unions (however badly led). It may be interesting to see if this is reciprocated in the future.
The hysterical reaction to the formation of Solidarity is unsurprising, however. Union bureaucrats are well aware that many ordinary members are unhappy with the lack of real internal democracy and general political line followed by the bureaucrats. They are desperate to stifle Solidarity because it is seen as a threat.
Let’s take a look at the CWU. Some readers will remember that a former general secretary, Alan Johnson, was given a safe seat in Hull in time for the 1997 General Election – he went on to become a Minister. Perhaps Hayes, the present General Secretary is hoping for similar elevation eventually. Patrick Harrington, a member of the National Executive of Solidarity said: –
“Bureaucrats like Hayes support paying money over to the Labour Party. He states in his own Weblog: ‘ Clearly the Labour Party is still our best chance to engage in serious politics’. This is a Party, which deports genuine asylum seekers to countries where they may be subjected to torture. It is a Party that has involved our country in occupying foreign countries with all the death and misery that entails. At home it is a Party hell-bent on providing a compliant and ‘flexible’ workforce for the Capitalists. He speaks to Liberty about ID cards and marches for cease-fires in Lebanon but at the end of the day he signs the cheques as usual.”
“Few believe that the Labour Party is the voice of the ordinary union member. There is considerable evidence to the contrary. It is sad that some Union bureaucrats want to grease Labour Party palms at various levels and get onto the gravy train themselves. Even CWU delegates have voted in the past not to raise the political levy because they thought Labour had not proved itself worthy of support. This was after a speech by Stephen Byers on the virtues of ‘partnership’ (or more properly collusion or incorporation). Of course Derek Hodgson, the previous general secretary was upset. “You’ve stabbed him in the back” he reportedly whined to delegates (referring to Byers).”
“CWU members should look at how their Union reacted to the imposition of pay and conditions by the employer and learn lessons. They should ask whether paying money over to those who have their sights set on becoming a Labour councillor or perhaps even an MP is likely to serve their interests.”
He went on:-
“The idea that Solidarity would apply to the TUC for affiliation really made me laugh. We believe in ‘One Big Union’. The idea is not new. In 1834 Robert Owen formed the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union in an attempt to unite all the workers into one Union which he hoped would “turn society upside down”, putting the workers at the top and the Capitalists at the bottom. Our aim in Solidarity is to unite all workers, from all racial, religious and political backgrounds. We are not bound by TUC regulations on ‘poaching’ members from other Unions. We actively urge all workers to leave Unions like the CWU and join our small but growing Brotherhood.”