The results for the Amicus Executive Committee
elections have been announced, and they herald an important
breakthrough for the left with 23 candidates from the broad left,
Amicus Unity Gazette, slate being returned.
this does not give the left an overall majority on the new lay
Executive it is undoubtedly a step forward starting from a very low
level of only a handful of lefts on the executive structures of MSF and
AEEU, the constituent unions of Amicus which officially merge on
January 1st 2004.
leadership of both of these unions and their forerunners has been
dominated by the right-wing for years. The AEEU especially has been a
pioneer of class collaboration between the employers and union leaders
in the form of ‘sweetheart’ no-strike deals signed behind closed doors,
and refusing to fight against the anti-union laws that have tied one
hand behind the members backs in negotiation and struggle.
the leadership of both of these unions has fully supported the clique
of middle-class, Blairite careerists in the Labour Party; firstly in
their attempts to hijack the party, and thereafter in their
continuation of Tory policies of attacks and cuts in the interests of
of corrupt and right-wing leaders who have failed to offer a way out of
the problems, but instead have collaborated with the employers to
introduce new working practises and wage restraint, explains the low
turnout in the election which was not more than 15% and as low as 6% in
some industry sectors. Nonetheless as we have explained many times the
current right-wing leadership in the British union movement is the
product of the lull in the struggle following the defeats of the 1980s
– while the working class had its eyes off the ball these people clawed
their way to the top of the movement. This process is now reaching its
limits and beginning to turn into its opposite, a growing number of
workers are looking for solutions to the problems they face.
right-wing have tried to keep a lid on this mood – but whatever they do
they will not be able to hold it back indefinitely. As with all leaders
who do not represent the workers interests, they are destined to be
washed away and replaced with more honest and effective leaders.
while they might breathe a sigh of relief, this election result is a
serious blow for the Blairites in the union and the Labour Party and
their friends in the company boardrooms. They only just managed to hold
their majority, which is far smaller and weaker than it was in the
past. They are also confronted with an organised caucus of left EC
members. This accounts for the gloom and despondency in the bourgeois
press around the result.
are they out of the woods yet. There is a widespread perception among
the activists that these elections were rigged, and a some evidence in
relation to this is being investigated. In spite of the fact that the
right-wing hardly campaigned they defeated most of the strong left
candidates, including prominent Socialist Appeal supporters, while many
of those lefts who were standing in difficult seats won, and often with
a decent majority. A number of challenges to the results are now being
considered based on the widespread discrepancies in the vote. A few
successful challenges would tip the balance of forces on the EC in
favour of the left.
importantly we must not lose our perspective. The shift in the balance
of forces to the left is the product of a profound discontent among the
membership, which only mirrors the broader processes taking place
throughout society as a whole. This is not going to go away; in the
hands of the right-wing the union will not offer any alternative to the
problems the members face but only more of the same.
balance of forces as they stand could put us into a dangerous position.
With only a few seats standing between us and a majority on the EC some
on the left might be tempted into making deals and subordinating our
ideas and principles in order to achieve short-term goals. Down this
road lies disaster. Why compromise a winning programme?
is the time for the left to develop and reinforce our ideas. We must
consolidate our forces on the EC and build the Gazette into a fighting
campaigning body with a life outside election campaigns, one which can
inspire and win the membership to socialist ideas.
this way we can put our ideas across on the EC and to the wider
membership on the shopfloor at one and the same time. This will allow
us to put enormous pressure on the leadership to take up the struggle
for our interests, and begin building and preparing to lead the
membership to take the union fully back into our hands. Both those that
won and those that lost will redouble their efforts over the next
period ready to contest the EC elections in three years time.
A more detailed analysis will follow shortly.