The campaign they tried to hide… and still 10,000 voted for Robbie

March 1st, 2009

With the votes now counted, we can confirm that Robbie got a very respectable ten thousand members’ votes for the position of President of Usdaw. That means a third of the votes for President of the fourth biggest union in the country! 

Robbie was also reelected onto the Executive Council with nearly 500 more votes than the next person and despite a dramatic increase in the number of members standing for election in the south.

            With a turnout of 9% and a muted campaign to say the least, it is hardly surprising that the incumbent President got re-elected, the New Labourite Jeff Broome, with the entire union machinery backing him. It is disgraceful that the election was hardly mentioned to the majority of members, no debates were allowed and the only available official election material for Robbie being the ballot paper itself. 10,000 leaflets were distributed by Socialist Party members and others on the left in Usdaw getting an overwhelmingly supportive response.

            Robbie stood for President following her 40% vote in the General Secretary election over the summer. She has been standing on a platform of opposing any job losses in the retail sector and was the only person on the EC to raise the demand for nationalisation of Woolworths. While she was issuing press releases and contacting workers about the need to demand the companies open their books and show us where the money has gone, the Usdaw leaders were falling over themselves taking part in debates and interviews defending the job losses and arguing that nothing can be done other than spout praise on Brown’s government (see John Gorle’s interview with Paxman or Hannett’s statements in Arena and Network). 

            Robbie’s demands have been focusing on the urgent need for Usdaw to give retail workers a strategy to fight the barrage of job losses and the attacks on terms and conditions the bosses are trying to heap on the plate of workers. Retail is one of the main industries that have recently been in the firing line, bearing the brunt of the economic crisis the bankers and speculators got us into.

Robbie pledged to launch a campaign to raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour from 16 to retirement, which got an enthusiastic response from members struggling to make ends meet on the pittance we get.

            Robbie says: ‘What shop workers need isn’t conciliation with New Labour and the bosses but a strong democratic fighting leadership. I will continue the struggle and now with a stronger left network of activists behind me we are heading for our most successful ADM for a long time. The voice of the members won’t fall on deaf ears for much longer’

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