The CWU (Communication Workers’ Union, covering post and telecom workers) met for its postal, telecom, and general conferences on 27 April to 1 May.
The biggest political debate was on Scottish independence. Several Scottish delegates spoke for a “no” to independence, saying that “as a union, we’ re stronger together” and they won a large majority. Only one of the 13 Scottish branches is pro-independence.
Of the two motions on the Collins Review, the more combative was defeated, and the “steady as you go” one was carried.
A rule change was submitted by a regional committee and a branch (probably encouraged by the central union leadership) proposing that CWU move to Unison’s model of having two political funds, one affiliated to Labour and one unaffiliated. That would deflect democratic control over the union’s political activity into small and inaccessible meetings.
The rule change wasn’t reached, but general secretary Billy Hayes, in a speech to conference, raised the “two funds” idea, and it is likely to come back in 2015.
The main motion at general conference about campaigning for renationalisation of Royal Mail was not reached.
Royal Mail boss Moya Greene was invited to speak at postal conference. The deal which the union struck around privatisation provides postal workers with substantial guarantees for a couple of years. But what then? And the price was that the union had no proper protest campaign against privatisation.
At the telecom conference, a motion was passed criticising the telecom leadership — dominated now by the misnamed “Left Activists’ Network”, a splinter from the Broad Left, over performance management in BT. BT bosses are now pushing for a two-tier workforce, with new workers employed on worse pay and conditions.
Many workers have little confidence that the LAN leadership will fight that push effectively. The Broad Left faction needs to be rebuilt in telecom, and to be made capable of combatting LAN in the next telecom Exec elections, in mid-2015.