Sunday, April 27, 2008

South East Region TUC AGM 2008

Yesterday morning I had to skive off from Labour Party street stalls and canvassing to attend the SERTUC (South East Region Trade Union Congress) AGM at Congress House.

I am a first time UNISON delegate. London UNISON Convenor, Gloria Hanson was there to show me the ropes.

It was well attended with about 100 delegates from 17 affiliated trade unions and a number of TUC trade councils from all over London and South East England.

There were really interesting speakers such as Adrian Weir from Unite, who spoke about a recent trade union visit to Palestine and the pretty disastrous situation for everyone in that deeply unhappy and divided region.

Ivan Beavis, spoke somewhat wittily on the need of the Labour movement to support the Morning Star newspaper. It is not apparently anymore the Party organ of the Communist Party but the only real “Paper of the Left”. You may not agree with all its arguments and editorials but it is the only national newspaper that will bother to report on trade union and Labour movement issues. I know I should read the “Morning Star” but to be frank I find it difficult to find the time to read any printed newspaper nowadays, never mind the mass of specialist trade union, political, safety, Pension and housing magazines that I should be wading through. It’s a poor excuse I know, but there you go. Fair play to Ivan for at least making us smile.

Not a smiling matter in the least was the speech by senior Shelter Unite Shop steward, Elizabeth O’Hara. Shelter (the housing charity) had their 3rd and 4th day of strike action last week and are due to go on strike again next week for 2 days. The strike is over a proposed significant reduction in pay, terms and conditions for many staff. They are meeting management on Monday and I hope something get sorted out. The strike seems to be getting even more bitter than before and must resolved ASAP.

There were also guest speakers from Malawi trade unions who phrased the South African Dockers who refused to unload arms and munitions for the dictator Mugabe in Durban and called for international intervention in Zimbabwe to bring democracy to that country.

There was a lot of support for Ken in the GLA elections and of course defeating the BNP. Steve Hart the London regional secretary of Unite pointed out that some 3,500 of his members who work as cleaners have benefited from the London Living Wage of £7.20 per hour. Ken has announced that as soon as Metronet (one of the underground contractors that have gone bust) is taken over by the GLA, their low paid minimum wage (£5.52) staff will also benefit from the GLA Living wage commitment.

The GLA UNISON shop is apparently nearly 100% density, as you could imagine with the workforce fearing the prospect of Boris as their boss and BNP Assembly members.

No matter what you think about Ken (or the Labour Party for that matter) you must want Boris to lose. It is no use just moaning about Boris or dismissing him as a buffoon, he could well win. If you don’t want him to win you have to actively campaign against him. If you shut your eyes and pretend he doesn’t exist he will not just go away. Personally, I wish SERTUC had postponed the traditional May 1st parade and should have encouraged trade unionists to either be “knocking up” for Labour or handing leaflets out for Searchlight. I’m disappointed to miss this years March (see 2007). But I think it is far more important to stop Boris.


Anonymous said...

I glad you enjoyed my remarks. If you can't read a paper copy of the mighty Morning Star subscribe on line at
Did you hear the one about Gordon Brown being a socialist?
Rock on
Ivan Beavis
Circulation Manager
The Mighty Morning Star

John Gray said...

Just come across your comment 4 years late Ivan. Now it is surely come back Gordon all is forgiven!