CWU: Hayes ousted by Ward

April 19, 2015 at 3:17 am (democracy, elections, labour party, posted by JD, unions)

CWU logo

Left Futures reports:

Dave Ward who has been the deputy general secretary (postal) of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) since 2003 was this afternoon (April 16th) 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.

Billy Hayes has been a very prominent figure in the trade union movement, the Labour Party and the wider Left for many years, and has also been a contributor to Left Futures and an active supporter for 35 years of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy at whose AGM he was the keynote speaker earlier this year. More recently, he was an opponent of the changes to the Labour-Union link which were agreed last year in the Collins report.

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A CWU member told Shiraz:
“Billy lost for many reasons. One of them is that he is more ‘left wing’ and political than most CWU activists.

“Dave is no better industrially than Billy and in fact is more accommodating in his dealings with Royal Mail. He is not really that militant I don’t think – its just industrial relations in the postal sector are red in tooth and claw so you have to be prepared to take action in a way that would be resolved in other sectors.

“Dave  is very limited in his wider union approach for example to organising the whole communications sector, to equality issues etc. The real difference  between them is that Billy (though flawed – and I could give you chapter and verse on those flaws!) at least has a broad political approach to his trade unionism.

“The fact that Dave is sceptical about the LP-TU link, something he really played up in this election, and previously, is not of course evidence of him being more left wing or  having a political view at all. Its just narrow minded ‘sub syndicalist’ trade unionism I would say.It is my opinion that if Dave had been the GS when Mandelson tried to part privatise Royal Mail  we would have a had an unprincipled deal rather than the fightback that Billy led on the political front.

“Dave’s election is a step back for the CWU.”

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