(Oh bloody hell: didn’t mean it to be that big, matron!).
Bad news on the British trade union front: the merger between the TGWU and Amicus is in serious trouble.
Of course, it’s nothing to do with anything that sane people would regard as politics: it’s all to do with personalities. Or, to be precise, Derek Simpson’s paranoia.
According to senior members of both ex-T&G and ex-Amicus that I’ve spoken to, the problem is that Derek Simpson cannot tolerate any form of challenge to his authority. He and Tony Woodley are now “at war”.
There is a fundamental difference between the two: Woodley, whatever his faults and shortcomings, wants to build an organisation that will further the interests of the working class in Britain and internationally; Simpson wants to retain power for Simpson…
Ironically, Simpson is hoping to use “Respect Renewal” member Jerry Hick‘s complaint to the Certification Officer -against himself (Simpson) continuing in office beyond the age of 65 – as an excuse to call an election and run for General Secretary of Unite…this would more or less force Woodley to run against him. This is despite the fact that the recently-agreed (by a membership ballot) Unite rulebook states that both existing General Secretaries (ie: Simpson and Woodley) shall stay in office until December 2010, and this was, I’m told by a reliable source, agreed in advance of the rulebook being finalised… by the Certification Officer himself!
This entire situation is bad news for British workers. Hopefully, the serious left groupings within both unions will get their acts together and sort out a modus vivandi. And beware: the dangerous fake-lefts within both unions, around Steve Davison (ex-Amicus) and John Aitkin (ex-T&G), are already in talks to back Simpson in the event that Hick’s challenge succeeds, and an early election goes ahead.
If it doesn’t, then it may be a matter of one of two sides of the Coyne in 2010…