THE AMICUS union held its section conferences last week. About 80 delegates from both blue and white collar sections attended the aerospace conference.
They were from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Westlands and other smaller companies in the industry.
The conference took place against the backdrop of the Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson’s recent coded call in the Mirror for Blair to go.
But this controversy was absent from the conference debates.
There was unanimity in the policy debates as motions supporting the repeal of anti trade union legislation and the drive for a 35-hour week without loss of pay, including support for strike action, went through without dissent.
The main point of disagreement emerged over the leadership’s strategy for saving jobs and for recruitment to the union.
Geoff Hoon, the minister of defence, recently appointed John Wall, the Amicus aerospace national secretary, to the National Defence Industries Council.
This awards Ministry of Defence contracts to defence companies.
Wall said Amicus should campaign for more government funding for defence spending and pressure to be applied to ensure that these contracts be awarded to British companies that recognise the union.
Delegates spoke from the floor opposing this strategy.
The conference supported moves to give branches more money to spend on campaigns and argued that members should be allowed to give financial support to workers in struggle.
The left wing Unity Gazette group won many of the elections at the conference. This included delegates to the policy conference in 2005 and the national aerospace conference that governs union strategy in the industry.
Derek Simpson addressed the combined sectoral conferences from aerospace, power and education.
Someone asked why we were wasting our time giving money to New Labour and suggested we pull the plug on them now.
Simpson “clarified” his calls for Blair to go by suggesting that there was nothing wrong with Blair apart from his policies!
It is clear that Amicus members need a different strategy, one that resists the bosses’ agenda and is also prepared to challenge New Labour.