This week, Dave Ward replaced Billy Hayes as general secretary of the posties’ union, the CWU. A member of Liverpool IWW wrote the following a few years ago, analysing how the CWU bureaucracy works against its members’ interests. He believes that Ward’s leadership will not change anything for the better.:-
“When he was elected General Secretary of the CWU, some national papers referred to him a “a prominent member of the awkward squad” and many CWU members thought he might offer a change for the better from the New Labour anti-working class stance of Alan Johnson. How wrong they were! Billy has always done his level best to ingratiate himself with the Labour Party leadership.
When the closure of the huge Copperas Hill Mail Centre was announced in 1998, Billy shared a platform with Labour MP, Maria Eagle and uttered not one word of condemnation against the party whose Government had decided upon the closure. The Mail Centre was saved thanks to a well fought campaign by the rank and file CWU members on Merseyside and beyond in the face of opposition from Labour.
Billy has been a champion of the CWU-Labour Party link despite the Labour Party having done nothing for members of the CWU (or any other Trade Union for that matter) at any stage during its continuation of Thatcherite monetarist policies. He is fond of accusing anyone who opposes throwing huge sums of money at the Labour Party of taking “a rightist stance”. At the 2007 CWU Conference, Billy told members who opposed the CWU NEC decision to support Alan Johnson’s bid for Leadership of the Labour Party of “stabbing him in the back”.
Johnson is a man who, when at the Department of Trade and Industry, made it more difficult to get access to industrial tribunals. As Education Secretary he imposed student loans and abolished grants. As Health Secretary he supports the addition of fluoride to drinking water supplies despite warnings that fluoride is thought to be carcinogenic. Johnson supports the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So Johnson himself is a dab hand with the dagger when it comes to the working class he once belonged to. At this year’s conference, Hayes accused those who favoured breaking the link with Labour of “doing David Cameron’s work for him.”
It is very obvious to any worker, pensioner, student and school pupil that Blair and Brown have been doing David Cameron’s work for him for over eleven years. To listen to Billy, anyone would think there have been no schools shut down, hospital wards closed, transport services reduced, post offices closed, dodgy regimes armed or illegal wars fought under Labour. In his heart of hearts, Billy knows life under Labour is no workers paradise. A look at his self-publicising ‘blog’ which can be accessed through the CWU website shows this. No one should be fooled into thinking Billy is unhappy with the way Labour has trampled on the working class over the years. If he was, he would have done exactly what thousands of others have done and left the party. Instead, Billy’s solution is to get people to join the Labour Party in the hope they can get the party to change course.
The idea that the Labour Party might be open to a change of course is ludicrous. One thing the Labour Party has always managed to do throughout its history is expel anyone bearing the remotest resemblance to a socialist. Billy is firmly in the “change from within” camp. The fact that people like EP Thompson, George Lansbury, Arthur Scargill and Terry Fields among others were unable to stop the rightward march of the Labour Party should tell Billy something. The fact that Billy and the other party hacks cling to their membership cards certainly tells the rest of us plenty about them. But life on the planet Billy becomes farcical with his latest wheeze. He now believes the CWU should work closely with the Communication Managers Association (Part of the UNITE union) even referring to UNITE as “our sister union” in a recent letter to CWU members.
Let no one be under any illusion. The Communication Managers Association is nothing more than an organised army of scabs. Every single postal strike and work to rule has been undermined by these glorified office boys being shipped around the country, housed in hotels and tearing about the country as they try their best to break strikes. Worse still is that these drones then bring disciplinary charges against CWU members who insist that they honour union picket lines. CMA dupes have lately taken the line that they are not scabs as they are not crossing their own union picket line and that the dispute is not their fight. A scab is a scab and no amount of word play will alter that. These are the people Billy would have his members stand shoulder to shoulder with if he had his way. Small wonder several London Branches got together and came up with the following motion: “Conference deplores the disgraceful actions of certain Unite members during the Postal dispute which has left a number of representatives and activists either facing dismissal or being dismissed. Furthermore, Conference further condemns the ex-CMA Unite members for disgracefully undermining a fellow trade union’s lawful strike. Given their actions, Conference reaffirms that under no circumstances will the CWU enter into negotiations on a merger or merge with the Unite either now or in the future.” The motion was carried and for the second year running, the Hayes pram rocked alarmingly as toys were flung everywhere.
Billy thinks postal workers who oppose any merger with the scabs and traitors of the CMA currently hiding at the bottom of the UNITE compost heap should look to the future and not dwell on the past.”