Monday, September 21, 2009

A Million Voices for Change - a million signatures to show we are serious

The TUC voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Peoples' Charter last Thursday.

This was a result for all those of us who want the union movement to break out of the political impotence and irrelevance which our leaders have all but celebrated for the past decade.

It was also to the credit of the politically astute souls in the RMT who accepted an amendment from UNITE which may have been intended as a wrecking amendment but which in fact strengthened and focused the position of support for the Charter, leaving in the commitment to work for a million signatures on the charter whilst also pressing for action in the Labour Party (about which the RMT had been uncharacteristically reticent).

Once leftwingers in UNITE had corrected a wobble about whether or not to withdraw the amendment (which had helped to ensure - for example - UNISON's support for the motion) the eventual outcome (support from the General Council - albeit with a a reservation - and then Congress) was predetermined.

UNISON activists can now correct any foolish perception upon the part of cynical souls that our "Million Voices for Change" campaign was ever intended as an establishment spoiler for the Charter (perish the thought!) Instead what we can now do is use the campaigning materials for the Million Voices campaign at branch level alongside the Charter itself.

After all, some of us on the political left are used to the criticism that we espouse causes on behalf of our members without their support - UNISON can now protect ourselves from any such criticism by integrating our Million Voices campaign with support for the Charter.

If we have a million voices for change - and I believe we do - then we can get a million signatures on the Charter which calls for that change. Mass support for the Charter will enable us to put pressure on politicians to join us in expressing that support if they want our votes.

From my perspective (as a Labour Party member who is not afraid to own up to that political affiliation when seeking office in our trade union, unlike some) I think that this can only be helpful in firming up the position of the better Labour candidates (of whom there are some) and helping us to campaign to protect as many as possible of the few socialist Parliamentarians we currently have to speak up for our class in the Palace of Westminster.

No comments: