Dear Sisters and Brothers
Unfortunately, 2009 will be 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.I ask you to help mobilise your members in the President and EC elections to ensure they vote for candidates who want change. Have a good new year but let us make 2009 the year that Usdaw starts the fight back.
Robbie (Robina) Segal