Delegates gathered at the Usdaw shop workers’ union conference in Blackpool last week. There was notable anger against Labour, especially around Gordon Brown’s removal of the 10p tax rate.
Shop workers, who are some of the lowest paid workers in Britain, were clearly angry at Brown’s extra taxes on the poor.
After general secretary John Hannett introduced the politics session by outlining the union’s continued support for Labour there was a lively debate.
Many delegates condemned his position. Peter Millward, a delegate from Andover Twinings, argued, “You cannot fit a fag paper between Brown and Cameron”.
He denounced continued support for “a Labour Party with an infatuation with right wing politicians, from Bush to Berlusconi”.
Another delegate suggested that “the policies of Labour government is pursuing are sowing the seeds of its own destruction”. A motion was passed that was critical of the way in which trade unionists and workers are marginalised in the modern Labour Party.
The union also took an important step in ensuring its voice is better heard by voting to reject no strike agreements.
The conference overwhelmingly passed a proposal that called on the executive to cancel all existing no strike agreements, thus restoring an important weapon in the union’s arsenal.
The conference also voted to condemn Britain’s opt out of the European Working Time Directive, which allows employers to exploit workers for longer and harder.