GMB on Venezuela

GMB on Venezuela

There was an appalling motion calling for Maduro to be deposed in Venezuela. GMB policy is to support the Venzuelan people through, in the UK, Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. Things have changed in Venezuela and the CEC took the opportunity to recommend the motion be referred so that they can review the policy and the situation. I spoke against the motion, here is the youtube link to the start of the debate, since I think it worth publicising the speeches in favour, the other motions are then moved and there were two speeches against, I am the last speaker before the CEC. My last line was,

Our solidarity must be with people of Venezuela; regime change is both illegal and wrong, aggressive war is both illegal and wrong.

This motion does not deserve our support in any way.

I was actually quite shocked to see how few delegates supported us outside London, although a lot of people didn’t vote the first time round. I asked for count of the votes, but they asked delegates to show their votes a second time and it was clearly carried, i.e. referred to the CEC. …

Ships, Steel & Gas

Ships, Steel & Gas

I have worked as a London (or Thames Valley) white collar worker for all my working life but the GMB is strong in manufacturing and energy. We had several debates of special interest to Shipbuilding, Steel, and Energy, especially the Gas industry and there was also a motion on fracking. For more see below/overleaf.

Ships

The shipbuilding motions refer to public procurement policy and reference concepts echoed in the “Just Transition” movements, about not leaving communities nor workers behind. While looking for a picture to decorate this article, I came across an article, entitled, “Another RN supplier goes under – the closure of Appledore shipyard”, which documents the impact on the community but critiques Babcock’s commercial strategy. In reading the article, it makes clear that Appledore was part of the Aircraft Carrier supply-chain and so their commissioning prolonged the life of the shipyard. GMB Congress also highlighted the failure of the Government to “Buy British” for the latest generation of Fleet auxiliary ships. I have written several articles mirroring arguments about  what I consider to be the mistakes of renewing Trident and the building of the new Fleet Carriers. I think the Union needs to engage in these arguments i.e. what do we need and can they be built in multiple sites. It’s not just about how many hospitals could have been funded; what defence assets are we missing to fund the subs & carriers. The country needs to also address retraining and skills reuse. Labour’s promise of a National Education Service, with free, life-long learning available to all is an important part of keeping the UK’s skills relevant and renewing them. The debate can be found on youtube.

Steel

The fate of what remains of British Steel was also debated, and I reflected on this earlier this month on this blog. A motion had been submitted to Congress over the winter, again calling for a “Buy British First” policy and this was supplemented by an Emergency Motion calling for the Scunthorpe Steel Works to remain open. [Video of the moving, in several ways, speech]

 

Nothing was mentioned about the Government’s handling of tariffs. (A mistake I would have thought).

Gas

The future of the Gas industry was debated via Composite 15.

While in entering the debate, I assumed that I’d have a problem with the GMB position as too often Unions take a no change position, the composite is well argued and highlights certain critical facts, although not others. (Electricity cannot be stored at scale, Gas can, electricity leaks over the grid. Hydrogen is not a fossil fuel.)  The science of innovation with respect to the use of Hydrogen has not been documented either by the GMB branches nor by Friends of the Earth. (I am trying to chase it down; I have written to SGN who had a stand in the exhibition space.) There’s no question that if Momentum and Friends of the Earth get their motion to Labour Conference, the Just Transition Unions will vote it down, unless they compromise on Gas & Nuclear. The GMB motions states that there is scientific consensus that gas heating in the home is part of a transition to a carbon neutral economy.

I think we need a better understanding of the science.

I read a lot about this in order to write this report, and my notes are on my wiki.

Fracking

A motion on Fracking, basically opposing it, in the light of recently discovered facts and regulatory changes was withdrawn at the request of the CEC.

ooOOOoo

The words of the Gas and Fracking motions are posted on my notes are on my wiki. …

GMB on Brexit

GMB on Brexit

The national committee of the GMB is called the Central Executive Council, and it produced a statement on  the subject of Brexit. The statement opposes a No-deal Brexit and calls for a final say public vote on any Tory deal to,

.. decide whether this is better than our current deal with the EU.

I was called to speak on the statement and my speech is on YouTube, as is the whole debate.

The statement was made available on the morning of the debate; I wish I’d had more time to consult members & colleagues. …

You can’t say that!

GMB Congress 2019 is a rules revision conference and one important rule change passed earlier in the week was to restrict the number of motions and rule amendments that a single branch can propose to three motions and two rule amendments.

One of our delegation spoke against the rule change arguing that restricting the number of motions would diminish Congress because branches would be choosing not to send motions, the difficulty that large branches with multiple employers in representing all their members was mentioned. A video of the debate is here.

On reflection, the idea that 2500 motions would be proposed is foolish, there were 435 motions on the order paper when there was no restriction. (I understand that one branch put in a shed load, but they obviously thought it important.)

I would add that, since the CEC, through its power to recommend “support with qualification” can uniquely move amendments to every motion, this change (of restricting a branch’s voice) will increase the CEC’s power over the agenda and the results. Also the CEC can table non emergency business, as special reports after the closing date for motions and so amending these is procedurally difficult. No system is perfect, but I agree that this is a retrograde rule change. …

British Steel

Our minds have been distracted or mine has anyway, but British Steel became insolvent last week. Of course a huge blame game is started. Have the Chinese been ‘dumping’ steel on the rest of the world? Could the Govt. or the EU have protected it? Did the single market aid rules stop the Govt doing so?

Is China dumping? This article at the Conversation says “Yes”, big time!

This article at fullfact.org, “Is the UK calling for EU duties for Chinese steel?” deals with next three questions. The EU have raised duties but for many years the UK Government has been resisting more; they wished to avoid retaliation and for ideological reasons. There’s probably some “don’t give a shit” there too. It would seem that this is another policy area where New Labour failed to support its natural people.

The calls for renationalisation are now, rightly growing …

Vote Labour again

Welcome to the Brexit merry-go-round!

I have been reading the news as have you all. Labour’s promised vote seems to be plummeting, in London in 2017, we got 61% and in the Mayoral election, Sadiq Kahn got 41% of first preferences. Polls are suggesting that Labour is on about 24% in London, although they could be wrong.

Labour supporters should vote Labour.

If you are a Remainer, and we win, these MEPs will sit for 5 years holding a Commission accountable.

Labour’s MEPs will be the Party of European Socialists and will pursue the objects of the PES Manifesto, which is largely influenced by Labour’s agenda of anti-austerity economics and social solidarity. Labour MEPs will vote for the Socialist candidate for the position of President of the Commission.

In London our candidates are good people. Claude Moraes has an exemplary record as European Legislator acting as Rapporteur (i.e. author) for the GDPR which redefined the right of Privacy in Europe. He has been Chair of the Civil Liberties committee, Seb Dance is probably best know for the he’s lying stunt but has been campaigning on environmental rights, Katy Clark used to be an MP and was a strong civil rights campaigner and Laura Parker is an articulate socialist who would strengthen Labour’s parliamentary team; she has been part of the team that has led Momentum to its “remain” supporting decision.

We talk of beating Farage; this is not just important in the UK for our own political health but the number of MEPs in the European Parliament matters. Historically Farage has sat independently with allies but apart from the Fascist parties from France & Hungary. These far-right parties are likely to be joined by the Alternative for Deutschland and the Italian hard right. The idea of an alliance of the political right of such size is frightening and all democrats should do their best to oppose these people. i.e. coming first or second matters in the UK.

The alternative for many seems to be the LibDems. If elected, they will sit with the ALDE group led by Guy Verhofstadt, who has been the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator; he has given up partly because he feels that ALDE will be more powerful without a strong Labour delegation. The British LibDems are no longer part of a British progressive alliance and ALDE cannot be trusted to fight the far-right.

  …

Labour and the Surveillance State

I am planning to get a motion on the Justice and the Surveillance State to LP Conference, I asked for help in this article on this blog, and I believe the final words for CLPD are very similar to my version 2. Here they are,

Investigatory Powers to be subject to Human Rights Law

Conference notes the absence from the NPF Report 2018 of the surveillance society.

Conference notes the continual use of surveillance powers in the private and public sectors authorised by law, or government programme including:

  • Investigatory Powers Act 2016,
  • Immigration Act 2014
  • Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015
  • Digital Economy Acts 2017/2010,
  • Data Protection Act 2018

Conference notes that the IPA 2016 and DEA 2010 were both interdicted by the CJEU as contrary to Human Rights Law and/or the EU acquis.

The intrusive programmes include Prevent and ‘get it right from a genuine site’.

Conference believes that freedom of expression and the right to privacy are universal human rights, that the current surveillance and investigatory powers regime is in breach of these rights.

Conference resolves that a Labour Government will ensure that private and public surveillance technologies and systems will conform to laws that meet the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, including a need to prove reasonable suspicion before collecting evidence and the right to a fair trial with the principle of innocent until proved guilty.

Conference calls on the Labour Party to draw up a Human Rights based policy for the regulation of British Law Enforcement authorities and their investigatory powers. This to include the abolition of Prevent, the repeal of the 2014 Immigration Act and the repeal of the immigration data exception established by the DPA 2018.

Conference instructs the relevant Policy Commission to launch a consultation on Surveillance and Justice to report to Conference 2020.

If you can get it to Conference that would be very helpful.

I have put the words in a word document,  Motion on Investigatory Powers for Lab19., or in a .pdf if you prefer, Motion on Investigatory Powers for Lab19. …