THE CWU postal and telecom workers' union conference had a good spirit about it, particularly in the postal section. A year of sharp struggle has given the members new confidence. Although there are big challenges ahead, there is a sense of new beginnings and a determination to relaunch the union with greater rank and file control and involvement.
This will be necessary as we face the threat of privatisation. One of the best debates was on bullying and harassment. Delegates demanded action against bosses who abuse disciplinary procedures to undermine and sack union activists.
The debate comes after cases, in east London and Cambridge, where union campaigns have reversed sackings pushed through by bosses. John Farnan, a divisional rep from the Anglia Region which covers Cambridge, said the union "can no longer allow unsubstantiated claims to be made against our members with no redress. We need to make sure the business knows we're serious about this. Managers who bring a case against our members when there is no case to answer must be brought to account."
East London delegate Angie Mulcahy said, "Time and again members have been attacked. We're sending a message that we will not allow these attacks to continue."
The conference gave a rousing welcome to Paul Turnbull from Cambridge, one of those sacked and then reinstated after a big campaign. Paul thanked all those who had backed his fight and said the union must continue to battle for justice for members.
Union deputy general secretary Dave Ward said that those who were in the front line of carrying forward the union's policies deserved protection.
POST WORKER, the rank and file paper, held an excellent fringe meeting. Around 60 people heard George Galloway MP, Norman Candy (CWU executive) and Jane Loftus (CWU executive).
It was a serious discussion with a Labour councillor earnestly debating whether it was time to leave the party. Delegates grappled with what we had achieved and the new battles ahead.