This is a letter we have recently received of support for Robbie. We republish it here anonymised.
I am the branch chairperson and senior rep. I write this letter today to appeal to all Usdaw union members to support Robbie in her bid to become General Secretary (GS) in the upcoming election. It is a rather lengthy letter but should take no more than five mins of your time to read.
I have been a member of Usdaw now for 15 Yrs and a rep for the past 12 of those years. I have no doubt in my mind after attending Usdaw’s recruiting academy, in 2005, of the way that this union works.
The rest of this letter is my opinion only and cannot be read as fact.
I believe that any notion of democracy in the truest sense of the word is now taking a back seat to a mild authoritarian stance with regard to the way that serving staff employed by the union are being pressured into supporting the present GS at the forth coming election.
I also believe that it is now time for serving staff to make up their minds and decide whether they joined the union to support its members or joined to make a career of off the back of members. This union, any union , should always be a machine that is put in place to truly support the lowest paid and most disadvantaged people in society. I’m afraid that I no longer believe that this union fully appreciates this point.
I’m not writing this letter with any sense of satisfaction, nor am I writing it for my fifth teen mins of fame. In fact I write with a sense of reluctance because I know that the up and coming debates at future conferences are going to be controversial and heated.
But these debates have to be had. They also have to be had in an atmosphere where people of all walks of life, including union officials, can feel comfortable to say what they want without fear of recrimination, and with a sense of constructiveness rather than tearing ourselves as a union apart, then we would be a union with true democracy.
I also believe that the leadership in this union are now far too comfortable with this right wing so called Labour Government. This union prides itself on being a campaigning union but the campaigns we run excluding the Freedom from Fear Campaign are all a little tame. Not one of them is going to upset this Govt.
We should be campaigning for:
· Inexpensive quality housing
· A decent living wage for all
· A reduction in working hours
· Abolition of draconian anti trade union laws
· Free higher education for all
· Abandonment of the two tier private / national health care system
· Improvement in employment laws.
These are in my opinion truly the sorts of campaigns this union should be running. These are the questions we should be putting to this Govt.
Whilst in Folkestone on the weekend of 21st of June 2008 attending our Summer Div Conference we had the opportunity to put questions to the GS and Deputy General Secretary (DGS). My question was as follows:
When will this union start to campaign for a decent living wage of £ 8.00ph for all of its 370,000 low paid members? This question I asked knowing full well that the decency threshold as defined by the E.U is £ 8.00 ph.
I am sorry to say that I got the very answer that I expected, that is to say that under the Tories we didn’t have a national minimum wage (NMW). This of course is true but two wrongs don’t make a right and £ 5.52 ph for a 22yr old is definitely wrong. I was also told that it was very easy for people campaigning to pluck figures out of the air.
I found the answer to be a little patronising and said as much to the DGS afterwards. This is not a figure plucked from the air but the E.U’s own decency threshold.
Of course the real worry in the answer is the unspoken truth, which is to say that this union at the moment will not take to Govt the issue of poverty pay.
I could go on but feel that anyone who reads this will have an idea of the way I feel and the point I am trying to make. I write this letter of my own accord without anyone asking me to do so and I write it because I truly believe that if we don’t stand up to be counted now my children and possibly their children will have to have these or worse arguments in their adult life.
I personally find it hard to understand why our leaders in the union have trouble understanding what it is that we are asking for.