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Wales TUC 2018: Socialist Party members challenge leadership at undemocratic conference
Roger Butler, Swansea Trade Union Council delegate
It was Socialist Party members who brought some life to the Wales TUC congress, speaking in numerous debates and appealing for basic democratic rights. This went down well with delegates.
Nine Socialist Party Wales members attended the biennial congress in Llandudno, north Wales. Our members included delegates representing trade union councils; members of civil service union PCS; and Amy Murphy, newly elected president of retail union Usdaw. A number were there for the first time.
Socialist Party members were involved in proposing action. This included motions on ending local authority cuts and outsourcing, fighting the public sector pay cap, campaigning for more housing and mental health services, and supporting renationalisation of rail.
Some were defeated on the recommendation of the Wales TUC general council after their failure to persuade delegates to remit their motions.
However, the response from the floor, with consistent applause, showed that there was considerable support from delegates whose hands were unfortunately tied by their delegation leaders when it came to the actual vote.
Usdaw's motion on fighting low pay, scrapping zero-hour contracts and for a real living wage of £10 an hour was passionately moved by Amy Murphy, who highlighted the devastating impact that poverty pay and zero-hour contracts are having on workers, particularly in the retail industry. Even a right-wing general council couldn't oppose this motion, which was passed unanimously.
The biggest applause of the three days came when Swansea Trade Union Council delegate and Socialist Party member Alec Thraves protested at the general council continually asking delegates to remit motions without allowing the proposers a right of reply.
Alec protested that it was a matter of basic democracy to be able to respond to criticism and outright distortions. This struck a big chord with rank-and-file delegates, some of who discussed submitting rule changes in future to prevent such bureaucratic obstacles being repeated.
As a first time attendee I agree with the observation made by one of the delegates who commented that Socialist Party speakers were "fearless" in confronting a right-wing dominated general council.
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