CWU to back Labour Representation Committee?

By a CWU member

At the General Conference of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) (14 June) the European Working Time Directive will be discussed.

At present, different sections of the union have different policies on whether individual opt-outs should continue.

The Telecoms Executive negotiates with telecoms companies to get rid of opt-outs, and its policy is for an end to them. The Postal Executive, however, believes that because of the low pay in Royal Mail and other companies, long working hours are necessary for now.

The union's answer should be to fight for a shorter working week, and increases in basic pay that will make a 48 hour limit workable.

On the political section of the agenda there is a composite in support of the Labour Representation Committee and calling for CWU representatives on Labour Party bodies to act in the interests of the labour movement and not for New Labour policies.

It also calls for support to the CWU group of MPs to be conditional on them supporting the aims and objectives of the labour movement, and endorses the Executive's condemnation of the expulsion of the RMT from the Labour Party.

At the Rules Revision section of the Conference, a rule change that allows each branch to have the right to support any political party or candidate who supports the principles of the CWU is on the agenda.

This year's CWU Telecoms Conference (18-18 June, in Bournemouth) will consider a motion of censure on the Executive for agreeing a productivity bonus scheme in BT Retail without a ballot of the membership affected.

This was the final act in a catalogue of failures by the Executive to build upon the widespread resistance by Customer Service engineers to the changes in their ways of working.

The CWU rules state that agreements should be subject to a ballot of the members affected.

Though this is criticism after the event, it remains an important marker to put down.

The Conference will also debate the union's attitude to the future regulation of the telecoms industry. There is an Ofcom consultation currently taking place.

It is important for the CWU to make clear that it supports a public service model for the future of telecoms, not a competitive model. The union policy is for public ownership of the telecoms industry but this is rarely publicised, let alone campaigned for by the Executive.

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