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Dave Ward to replace Billy Hayes as Communications Union leader

Billy-Banner4-1Dave Ward who has been the deputy general secretary (postal) of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) since 2003 was this afternoon declared elected as general secretary to replace Billy Hayes who has held the post since 2001 and was standing for a fourth term. CWU is the biggest trade union in the communications sector with 200,000 members working in companies including BT, Capita, EE, O2, Parcelforce, the Post Office, Royal Mail, Santander and UK Mail. Dave Ward takes over the role of general secretary from 1 June.

It is not yet clear what practical difference this will make to the union or its politics. Dave Ward is also widely regarded as being on the left, and as a member of the Labour Party he has previously served on its national executive. Whilst Billy Hayes has been a critical friend of Labour, Dave Ward who promisesno more something for nothing, blind loyalty to Labour” may be rather more distant. He does, however, promise to “make Labour and politics work for usand recognises that “the general election will be very close and we need to fight against austerity and the divisive ideas of UKIP for a Labour victory.” His stance may become clearer in 10 days time when the CWU conference will discuss several motions which seek to break the link with Labour and, in some cases, consider backing other parties including  the Grens, Plaid Cymru, SNP and TUSC.

Billy Hayes has been a very prominent figure in the trade union movement, the Labour Party and the wider Left for many years, and has also been a contributor to Left Futures and an active supporter for 35 years of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy at whose AGM he was the keynote speaker earlier this year. More recently, he was an opponent of the changes to the Labour-Union link which were agreed last year in the Collins report.

As CWU general secretary he has also served for three years as world president of post and logistics for UNI Global, the international trade union organisation, as vice chair of Trade Union Liaison Organisation (TULO) and vice chair of the National Policy Forum of the Labour Party, as a member for over a decade of both the Executive Committee and General Council of the TUC , and as its spokesperson on Europe.

His commitment to the Labour Party and left politics is longstanding. He joined the Labour Party Young Socialists in his youth, was an energetic party activist in Liverpool where he was born, grew up and became a postman in 1974 at the age of 20, joining the union on his first day.

As a lay union activist for 18 years, Billy took on several different duties within the Liverpool Amal Branch – including branch organiser, unit representative, area representative and branch secretary. In 1992 he was elected as a divisional representative and served on the executive council. Four months later Billy was elected as assistant secretary for the outdoor section of the postal department, responsible for delivery staff, cleaners and cash carrying. In 2001, after nine years in the role of assistant secretary, Billy was elected general secretary of the CWU.

In 2011, the same year that he was re-elected for a third five-year term as general secretary, Billy was also elected as world president of post and logistics for UNI Global, the international trade union organisation. Billy also serves as vice chair of Trade Union Liaison Organisation (TULO) and vice chair of the National Policy Forum of the Labour Party. Billy is a member of the TUC Executive Committee, TUC General Council and is spokesperson for the TUC on Europe. A more detailed biography is available here.

The ballot had closed on Tuesday 14 April and the result was handed to CWU this afternoon by Electoral Reform Services – the independent company which ran the ballot. There were two candidates for the position – Billy Hayes (16,851 or 45%) and Dave Ward (20,353 or 55%). The term of office lasts for five years and starts on 1 June 2015. Dave Ward said:

It’s a great privilege to be elected general secretary of the CWU by our members. In this role I will stand up for workers and aim to raise the profile of the union within our industries, the media and public life. I will continue the fight against austerity and ensure that protection and enhancement of jobs, pay and terms and conditions is at heart of everything CWU does.”

4 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    The politics do seem to be unclear here, both in terms of the Labour Party and wider issues. Ward was once on the LP NEC but apparently stepped down as he believed in conflicted with the interests of the union (I’m suspecting that relates to the LP being in favour of Royal Mail privatisation – although it would have been better to be a loud voice opposing that on the inside to back up the union on the outside).

    The CWU has huge problems right now. Once a predominantly public sector union they have suffered far more than most from privatisation (and in particular BT and RM) and now nearly al its members are in the private sector as a result. Just recently they lost recognition in Virgin Media due to not being able to retain enough members, while RM privatisation happened without a fight from the union leadership (and where both Heyes and Ward seem to share equal blame).

    Given all the problems it may be a case that like PCS, CWU starts looking for a bigger union such as Unite to merge into in the future, but for for now the immediate interest will be on the continued affiliation to the LP. If the forthcoming conference does adopt some of the motions to fund/support other non-LP candidates then it would likely face formal expulsion in the same way as the RMT did and for the same reasons. That in turn may increase the possibility of some key unions joining forces to support something far bigger and more credible than the current joke otherwise known as TUSC. Interesting times indeed.

    1. Robert says:

      Not forgetting that if labour loses the GMB and a few others are to allow for the first time a vote on disaffiliation. The GMB also said that lose the next election and the funding stream will end this is due to Falkirk and Grangemmouth.

      I would hate to see what will happen with the GMB out of a Million people only 50,000 are labour members but not even all of them are paid up members .

      I suspect the next election if labour wins we will see the public paying for parties, I can see labour going for state funding and then ending the Unions time within labour, then I can see a number of court cases over the name of the labour party.

      Interesting times.

  2. PETER WILLSMAN says:

    I served with Dave Ward on the Labour Party NEC and he was always rock solid on behalf of his members and the working class.Dave will be a very good Gen. Sec.Billy is very special and has a depth of thinking that is up there with the best I have known-Bernard Dix and Jim Mortimer spring to mind.It is not for nothing that I always call Billy the ‘The Top Man’.Billy still has lots to contribute to our Movement.CLPD is already on the case!!

  3. Dave Warren says:

    I worked with Dave as a Executive member in both his previous roles within CWU Headquarters and I campaigned for him in this election.

    He will make a first class General Secretary and will provide the union with the leadership it needs through the difficult years ahead.

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