Bulletin of Socialist Party members working in retail and distribution
ADM bulletin number 1, April 2009
‘I’d like to thank all the delegates and visitors to this conference who voted for me in
the election for General Secretary helping me achieve 40.6% of the vote’ Robbie Segal
Dear Sisters and Brothers
Unfortunately, 2009 is developing into one of the hardest years faced by retail workers for decades. During my campaign for Usdaw’s general secretary, I said that what was at stake was the future direction of the union.
My socialist message received 40% of the vote. If the election had taken place today, I am sure the bankruptcy of the present leadership’s policies - as shown by their response to the economic crisis - would have given me even more votes. My warning that there needed to be a change of attitude because the union would not be ready to face the challenges of the impending economic crisis has proven correct. It is clear from recent reports that two of the major UK banks came within hours of collapse and New Labour came to their rescue and the tax payer paid the bill. Our members have contributed millions to save the banks and yet when our jobs are threatened there is no help for us.
What is needed is a militant programme of action which includes: demonstrations, lobbying the government, occupations of the stores and workplaces, and the nationalisation of the major retailers. The trade unions have been silent, Usdaw must demand at the TUC that a progamme of coordinated action be planned which must include one day stoppages. John Hannett and the policies of Usdaw leaders’ have been tested with their response to the Woolworth closure. They have failed. We need Usdaw to fight for every job and argue for nationalisation of all large retail and distribution outlets when they threaten closure or redundancy. I am backing the No2EU- Yes to Democracy challenge in the Euroelections, see below for more info.
No2EU-Yes to Democracy offers the only realistic alternative of persuading workers rightly disgusted with the mainstream capitalist parties not to cast a protest vote for the BNP. No candidate on the No2EU list would benefit financially from their election and they would use the nominal position of MEP to fight against the EU’s neo-liberal agenda, in Britain and Europe. No2EU is a coalition for the European elections, and is only a tentative first step to independent working-class political representation. It will at bottom provide a pro-worker alternative to New Labour in June’s poll.
Support the Union Led Challenge to New Labour
THE MILLIONS of people now facing job losses, home repossessions, short-time working and wage cuts can expect nothing from the pro-market establishment politicians. After all, these are the same people who got us into this mess in the first place!
It was Gordon Brown, for example, who boasted at a speech before business leaders at London’s Mansion House just 18 months ago, that the New Labour government had helped create “a new golden age for the City”. He speaks now of the need for ‘new global rules’. But then he hailed the unleashed financial markets for creating a “new world order”, achieving “the greatest restructuring of the global economy, perhaps even greater than the industrial revolution”! Workers and young people suffering the consequences of his pro-big business policies have no mass political party to represent them as the crisis of the free market system deepens.
That’s why the announcement that the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) is backing an electoral alliance to contest the forthcoming European elections in June is so important. For the first time ever a national trade union, the RMT, the most militant industrial
union in Britain, is mounting an electoral challenge to New Labour, under the name No2EU-Yes to Democracy.
No2EU-Yes to Democracy concentrates on opposition to the European Union (EU) constitution (now re-packaged as the Lisbon treaty), which enshrines free market economics into EU law. It also stands against the EU’s directives instructing governments to privatise and cut public services, and the anti-trade union rulings of the European Court of Justice that are driving our wages, conditions and job prospects down in ‘a race to the bottom’.
No2EU-Yes to Democracy is a coalition for the European elections. But it represents another step towards rebuilding political representation for working class people, absent from Britain since the 1990s transformation of the Labour Party into the completely capitalist New Labour.
Come to the Broadleft meeting tonight (Sunday)
Speakers will include Robbie Segal EC member (in a personal capacity) and Mick Cotter Unite member to speak about the Visteon dispute, where 600 workers were informed 5 minutes before their shift end that they had no job and no redundancy pay or pension intitlements. A discussion will also be had on the No2EU- Yes to Democracy electoral challenge.