Monday, March 26, 2007

Green Left Fringe

Saturday: The Green Left fringe at Swansea conference was held jointly with the Trade Union group and seemed very well attended. The two speakers were Derek Wall and Andy Johnstone, the head honcho of the Welsh T&G.

Unfortunately I missed Derek's contribution but Andy was a very interesting and open minded speaker. He spoke well on the problematic relationship that the union movement had with Labour and with a wry smile described Labour's term of office as "ups and downs" with the unions "trapped in a relationship" with the party of government.

He described Tony Woodley as a "man of great vision" to which I raised my eyebrows, but this aside Andy made some excellent points, particularly about the idea of reskilling workers, and changing what we produce as well as simply protecting workers rights.

In the car industry we need a little bit of "beating swords into ploughshares" and in order to do so the union movement needed to raise its game and the level of debate and struggle.

I raised a point about how we bring the trade union movement into the Green Party which had to involve taking the Green Party into the trade union movement. All too often Greens are well intentioned about the unions but they are rarely the first port of call when organising a campaign or giving support to those who are already fighting for a set of progressive politics.

We need to have engagement with the unions where we have common cause because it makes sense to combine out strengths where we agree, but we also need to engage where we have disagreements - and that needs discussing these points as friends. Where we argue over nuclear power or nuclear weapons for instance we can also link arms over the trade union freedom bill or defending the rights of agency workers.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why did the emergency motion on the NHS escape your notice?

Jim Jay said...

It not only did not escape my notice - I signed it!