Unions & politics

The union and outsourcing (John Moloney's column)

Following their victory in the recent dispute, our members in Royal Parks are preparing further demands, including over a range of safety issues, to submit to management. Throughout my time as Assistant General Secretary I’ve worked support and empower outsourced workers in the civil service to organise and take action. We’ve increased our membership by hundreds. We have a number of targets for next year, including winning company-wide bargaining with Mitie. This company holds ten major outsourced contracts in the civil service; we currently have recognition in seven. We want an agreement that...

AWL bulletin for the UCU strikes, 1-3 December 2021

AWL Higher Education workers fraction have produced this bulletin for the UCU strikes on 1-3 December 2021. Please download and read - and distribute if you agree! Let us know what you think - email awl@workersliberty.org. We have members in UCU and Unison and hold regular meetings to discuss building a democratic, fighting rank and file across campus unions.

Unison battle heats up

On 2 November the left narrowly won the Labour Link National Committee elections in the public services union Unison. With union President Paul Holmes suspended, we expected a dead heat in votes between left and right at the first Labour Link Committee meeting on 16 November. In fact, the right narrowly won all contested votes, because the Labour Party had expelled (for links to Socialist Appeal) Lilly Boulby, who was elected to the Labour Link Committee from the union’s National Executive (NEC). The right won Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee, and the casting vote where votes are tied...

To save the climate, push back the bosses!

“System change, not climate change”, and similar slogans, were prominent on the 6 November demonstrations for the COP26 summit. Yes, we need to change the whole economic, social and political set-up, not just reduce emissions personally. What new system should we seek? And how? “One solution, revolution”, chanted the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Appeal on the London demonstration. That doesn’t help: who are they asking to do that? How? We are for a workers’ socialist revolution, in which the global working class replaces the power of capital with a new system based on collective...

Time to turn round Unison

Almost five months after the left, under the banner Time for Real Change, won a clear majority on the National Executive (NEC) of the public services union Unison, on 2 November the left won a one-seat majority on the Labour Link National Committee. Unlike other affiliated unions, Unison has a parallel (though very opaque) structure for its political activity related to the Labour Party, with its own national committee and conference. Perhaps a quarter of Unison’s members pay into the affiliated political fund and can take part in that structure. For years this part of the union has been in...

COP26: Building our movement

After Greta Thunberg issued an invitation to Glasgow’s striking refuse workers, a sizeable contingent of GMB strikers joined the Fridays For Future march in the COP26 city along with 10,000 or so exuberant demonstrators - mainly school students, and parents with small children. Other local trade union branches lined the street with their banners to greet the march as it reached George Square. There’s been a big trade union element within the COP26 Coalition, with its explicit slogan of climate justice. However, often the impression here is more of left union bureaucrats being involved than...

Trade union struggle and political struggle - an interview with John McDonnell

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor, spoke to Sacha Ismail. After Labour Party conference, what do you think will happen with Starmer’s leadership? Do you think he’ll be around for a long time? It’s impossible to tell at the moment. At the conference he used the traditional Blairite, Mandelson playbook. Attack your own party to demonstrate you’re a strong leader; do a big personal speech to try to demonstrate you’re a normal human being; make banal statements instead of policy commitments. It didn’t work: the bounce in the polls didn’t happen. The...

Issues behind CWU conference

The option presented by the Executive to the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Special Virtual Conference on 7-9 November, to maintain the union’s affiliation to the Labour Party, is right. But the detail it contains, a focus on lobbying and supporting the Labour metro mayors, makes no sense. Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary, has moved on a little, but essentially this is a reprise from when Dave Ward pushed disaffiliation to gain profile against Billy Hayes, whom he defeated for general secretary in 2015. He did that to appear more left-wing, though in fact Hayes, for all his flaws, was...

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