Monday, June 04, 2007

CWU snubs Johnson


I know some of you are getting fed up with the Labour Deputy Leadership election, but it is a significant defeat for the leadership of the postal workers union that their support for the right winger, Alan Johnson, has been overturned by rank and file delegates at conference today. This underlines how the Deputy Leadership contest has allowed some debate in the unions about their future relationship with the Brown government. From what I gather support for continuing the link with the Labour Party is very weak within the CWU, and if there is a large scale strike this year - as seems likely - then pressure may grow to follow the FBU's example and disaffiliate.

This report is from the Morning Star:

CWU delegates in Bournemouth overwhelmingly voted to reconsider the union's decision to support Labour deputy leadership candidate Alan Johnson on Monday.

An emergency motion pointed out that Mr Johnson had failed to support the Trade Union Freedom Bill and the union's campaign against post office closures and had publicly supported Royal Mail's unpopular plans for employee share ownership.

Conference agreed to censure the NEC and instruct it to reconsider its decision to support Mr Johnston in line with the decisions taken at last year's conference and inform the membership of the decision prior to the ballot commencing on June 6th.

South London delegate Bob Cullen pointed out that deputy general secretary Dave Ward had said that he would rather "support a lamppost" than Mr Johnson, who was once the leader of the CWU.

"Let's support the lamppost," he urged delegates.

"If he can privatise what was his own industry, what would he do to others? He has no time for us working people. He should not be considered."

London Divisional representative delegate Martin Walsh branded Mr Johnson "the weakest" of all the candidates.

"He does not support the policies of this union, yet we still support him. That is wrong," he said.

"He walked away from this union, we did not drive him away."

London delegate Phil Walker added that Mr Johnson offered "little or nothing" to the union in his leadership manifesto.

"We have to look at the most acceptable candidate. Let's have another look at them," he said.

"Policy issues should be key to our judgment. Let us get what change we can out of this deputy leadership contest."
London Parcels delegate Paul O'Donnell said that Mr Johnson's nomination sent out the wrong message.

"It's like having a fry up for the bailiffs before they repossess your cooker," he said.

Kent Invicata delegate Sean Tait added: "We can't send divided messages to our own membership. We should make sure the people we support, support us."

Before the voting, CWU general secretary Billy Hayes urged delegates to reject the motion, insisting: "What you're saying is that the NEC is not entitled to an opinion. We are deciding the next Deputy Prime Minster."

The NEC will meet on Tuesday to decide who they will now support.

UPDATE: There is a good online report also in Socialist Worker . They make the point that: "It should be noted that not all the executive had supported Johnson at the executive meeting in question, with three supporting Jon Cruddas."

It is also worth saying that The Morning Star are wrong that Bob Cullen is from South London, he is from Oxford.

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