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. Continue reading

Unions have united for Labour victory. The party must respond to union concerns

Ed at TUC marchAll the signs are that Labour can form a majority government in 2015. Lord Ashcroft’s larger opinion polls all indicate that the Tories and Lib Dems are going to lose a lot of seats to Labour.

David Cameron seems to agree. This realisation forced him into a large Cabinet reshuffle in an attempt to find more presentable faces for the Tories. This will fail, as the faces aren’t the problem, it’s the policies.

This realisation is also dawning upon establishment forces in the media. We can expect many more of the character assassination attempts against Ed Miliband that we’ve witnessed recently. Our opponents will fight dirty because that is their character. Continue reading

Legal loophole used to exploit agency workers must be closed

workers_rights1Day-in, day-out agency workers doing exactly the same job as their colleagues are receiving up to £500 less in their pay packet every month. Why the gaping disparity? Because employers are using a clever legal loophole to undercut permanent employees and exploit temporary workers.

This week is part of Fair Pay Fortnight and the Communication Workers Union – who represents over 200,000 postal and telecoms workers – is shining a light on the injustice facing workers on the little known ‘Pay Between Assignment’ (PBA) contracts. These contracts are as appalling as zero hour contracts, permitting employment agencies to pay workers from as little as one hour a week when not on assignments. Continue reading

Young Labour committee votes to discuss policy no more than every two years

Young Labour on the March for the AlternativeAt October’s Young Labour national committee meeting, committee members, including chair Simon Darvill and NEC rep Bex Bailey, voted to reject two motions as agenda items: on the grounds that it was not the committee’s place to pass substantive motions, and that this should be left to the biennial policy conference.

This has a very worrying implication: that Young Labour will never again be able to take a substantive position on the majority of issues as they arise. The central argument for voting against hearing the motions was: Young Labour does not need to have motions in order to do stuff. We can simply organise meetings and campaigns, so long as we mention it at meetings. But to have no proper process for officially endorsing political positions and priorities between conference is surely unsafe. Continue reading

Strike ballot for Royal Mail workers

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) representing postal workers, has announced it will ballot for a national postal strike this month, if current ongoing talks with Royal Mail do not bring agreement. CWU is planning for ballot papers to go out on 20 September to 125,000 Royal Mail workers in what would be the first national strike ballot since 2009.

The union is in dispute regarding the settlement of its 2013 pay claim, further changes to workers’ pension scheme, the impact of possible privatisation on job security and terms and conditions, and the company’s future strategy. Continue reading