Monthly Archives: July 2016

Green Party Deputy Leader candidates respond to GPTU questions

your-party-your-voice-right-columnContenders for the Deputy Leadership of the Green Party have answered questions sent by the Green Party Trade Union Group, as voting begins in the party’s 2016 Leadership and Executive elections.

The Green Party Trade Union Group has asked each candidate to respond to a standard set of four questions, to gauge their attitudes to the Trade Union movement and how the Green Party should work with it. Their responses are set out below.

 


Amelia Womack

ameliawomack.co.uk

AMELIAWOMACKHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

With a Tory government, an opposition in disarray and a referendum result in favour of Brexit, it’s now more important than ever that we engage with all our allies to campaign for change. We particularly need to work with the Trade Union movement, which shares many of our most progressive aims and values on workers’ rights, equality and ending austerity.

I co-founded the Another Europe Is Possible campaign, the cross-party, grassroots campaign for a progressive Remain vote, and have represented the Green Party in the People’s Assembly. Through these campaigns, I  worked with leaders and grassroots activists from the Trade Union movement and got them involved in these campaigns. I would use this experience of working with Trade Unions to achieve common aims as a springboard – over the next two years, I want to kickstart more of this sort of campaigning alongside Trade Unionists and other progressive forces for our shared goals.

I would also like to work more closely with the Green Party Trade Union Group, who have gone from strength to strength in recent months – with perfect timing, given the importance of working with Trade Unions at the present time – and who have so much potential to build over the next few years.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

The Trade Union movement is essential to our society, as it campaigns for equality and dignity for all people, and for a society which puts people before profit. By promoting unions and enabling them to grow and become stronger across the UK, we are creating the conditions to realise our own progressive aims and values. And it’s no secret that I am a strong supporter of co-operative movements and worker ownership, as I believe people are better off when they are put in control of their own lives, and work in co-operation rather than competition.

The vast majority of UK unions supported a Remain vote in the recent EU referendum. They were integral to the Another Europe Is Possible campaign; not only did they campaign to protect EU workers’ rights, but many of them also shared our aims of protecting freedom of movement, championing the rights of migrants and safeguarding EU environmental protections. In the post-Brexit world, we need to work with the unions more than ever to campaign to salvage all of this.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

Many unions agree with us on environmental issues. Recently, for example, the NUT made a decision to campaign for a “carbon-zero economy;” RMT supports our aims on expanding public transport and improving air quality; whilst the TUC just this week produced a report calling for action to make the UK a leader in green jobs.

It’s true that some unions have taken an opposing approach on issues such as nuclear weapons, fracking or runways. We need to work with Trade Union leaders and activists on the many issues we do have in common; the more we do so, the more we will see an overlap emerge between Greens and Trade Union activists, which will help us to influence Trade Unions’ policies on environmental issues.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

The Green Party’s policies for working people and on Trade Unions are the most progressive of any major party. We in the Green Party are proud to call for higher wages and greater employment rights, to support Trade Union members in dispute and to call for greater freedoms for the Trade Union movement.

Minor changes or statements may need to be proposed to update our policies, such as responding to the recent Trade Union Act which is a major (and unwelcome) change to the law around Trade Unions. I’d also be keen to develop new policies around young people in work, particularly in those industries where young people are often exploited.

 


Shahrar Ali

electshahrar.co.uk 

ALISHAHRARHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

Greens believe in grassroots democracy and that includes the right to collective bargaining and strike action in the workplace. Whether Hunt’s extraordinary assault on junior doctors working conditions and pay or NUT and UCU rejection of casualisation of labour or counterproductive surveillance of students under the pretext of anti-terrorism, I have been vocal and active in those campaigns to protect these rights from my solidarity on picket lines to many speaking platforms. We need to better support the excellent work of our GPTU group in their outreach work and through sponsorship of trade union causes, whether through conference motions or joint campaigning. It’s real politics, just like the mobilisation of workers against zero hours contracts and other erosions that I’ve fought alongside on behalf of cleaners in my own university, to my support for the students on rent strike due to impoverished dwelling conditions.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the trade unionist movement today. In light of passage of the Trade Union Act 2016, rightly described as an ideological assault on workers’ rights, we must renew our resolve to protect basic rights in the workplace. Many of our initiatives for a fairer society recognise the role of public ownership and it is we who would renationalise the railways and safeguard a proper public NHS. Against the government’s austerity agenda, I’ve spoken at dozens of demonstrations from the people’s Assembly against Austerity in Manchester to a campaign for the protection of voluntary youth services in Parliament. We believe in ridding society of the ills of capitalism which would replace value with price and subvert value itself. Instead of the escalation in subcontracting of NHS services and reduced citizen rights under TTIP, we campaign for genuine socialism based on equal pay for equal work and public service ethos.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

Take our Green New Deal to reimagine jobs in renewable energy for the 21st century – advancing both investment in infrastructure and training and reskilling for genuinely sustainable jobs for all. We need to take those initiatives into the workforces that feel vulnerable to having the investment and jobs being cut from beneath them and negotiate a better future for all. I think the main challenge is to overcome the immediate pressures of making ends meet that most families will face to be able to make these long term solutions credible, whilst at the same time recognising that departure from business as usual is in everybody’s interest.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

We have outstanding policy in this area, genuinely progressive and visionary. I support a motion to conference seeking statutory right of access to workplaces of trade unions. I’m familiar with employees being disenfranchised through their employer’s failure to allow access to just their unions, when they were most needed. I would like to see us develop more robust policy on protection for workers who feel duty bound to blow the whistle under public interest disclosure and perhaps we also need to find ways of safeguarding the freedom of Information Act, which I have had cause to deploy in many a Green Party campaign.

You can read more about my candidacy at electshahrar.co.uk and facebook.com/Shahrar4Deputy/.

 


Alan Borgars

greensocialistalan.blogspot.co.uk

ALANEDMUNDBORGARSHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

I believe the Green Party’s relationship with trade unions is pretty good at the moment, but there needs to be a greater focus on helping trade unions understand the importance of environmental impact and making sure internal elections are genuinely free and fair and not dominated by certain cliques.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

Our trade union movement is important to address injustices that happen to employees, to make sure employees receive fair and decent wages/salaries, to give employees a voice in the workplace, and to play their part in making sure there is an actual balance between the rights and powers of employers and employees in all companies and cooperatives. In a green society, the trade unions will help act as mediators and negotiators in companies and cooperatives when employees feel for any reason unable to act for themselves in workplace disputes, and by making sure the power of directors and managers is moderated.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

The Green Party needs to highlight to trade unions that fundamentally there is no economy on a dead planet, that we are all dependent on our environment for basic needs and also our continued prosperity, and that they can gain respect from workers when they understand the importance of respecting environmental issues and finding solutions to them. The Green Party also needs to work with trade unions in particular sectors to find green technological ways forward to move on from reliance on non-renewable energy e.g. in the transport sector.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

For the most part, I agree with current Green Party Policy on trade unions and workers’ rights, although I would like to see a few key changes to make our policy more sensible and practicable. For example, I believe workers should only be able to buy out companies and turn them into cooperatives if those companies are about to go into liquidation and thus go bankrupt; I believe calling for a global or European living wage is not realistic since different countries and cultures have different needs and also because a universal basic income is supposed to provide a safety net already; I believe a maximum wage is only possible to implement if it is agreed to by employees from the bottom up and the decision to introduce a maximum wage, as well as how high this maximum wage should be in that specific company or cooperative, should be made by those employees and not by central or local government from above or any body of central or local government.

 


Andrew Cooper

andrew4deputy.uk

ANDREWCOOPERHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

The relationship between Labour and the Unions in recent years has been characterised by conflict often over fundamental differences in policy. Demonstrating where Green Party policy and trade union policy are in harmony would be one approach we could take . I would like to see Trade Unions to feel able to support individual Green Party Campaigns where they recognise that we have common cause e.g. RMT support for Caroline Lucas’s campaign. I would not however want a relationship with the unions on the same lines as that they have  with the Labour Party. Maintaining our one member one vote principle and not assuming support of millions of TU members for the Green Party would be important to me.  Approaches should be made by key members of Political Committee with appropriate Unions to see how we may best work together would be the approach I would favour. I also strongly believe that where we have the same objectives that we should join with Trade Unions in protests and marches to demonstrate that we recognise our similarities and back them up with action.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

With cuts occurring in the public and private sector Trade Unions are vital to protect the interests and working conditions of employees. In a Green Society we may expect to see more Workers Cooperatives, Employee owned companies and a greater role for the Public sector. That doesn’t mean Trade Unions won’t be needed but the likelihood of conflict should be diminished due to better communications with/between workers and greater involvement in the management of companies/cooperatives. Hopefully this will give opportunities for Trade Unions to play an important role in pastoral work with members looking after their welfare and personal development/education needs that may not be catered for by their employer.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

In some cases seeking to change Trade Union positions may be too deeply entrenched to change easily. Trade Union support for airport expansion, nuclear energy and Trident have been disappointing to say the least. It has to be recognised that the Trade Union movement is not a single cohesive body and that we may have different approaches to different issues with different unions. Demonstrating that there is a lot of work to do in a Green Economy  improving energy efficiency, renewables, more public transport would be a way of showing that the Green Party is a party that will generate work would be a good  starting point. Policies like the Citizens income would provide security for  workers (and non workers) alike and would strengthen power of workers and therefore unions in the workplace.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

I’ve read the policy and support it. An area I’d like to see explored more is the relationship between Unions and employee owned companies and cooperatives.  I’m happy to liaise and work with GPTU over any revisions to our existing policy.

 


Daniella Radice

daniellaradice.org

DANIELLARADICEHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

I think we need to continue to make positive contact with trade unions where we can. I have already facilitated discussion between Bristol Green Councillors and representatives of the PCS union which is not politically aligned, and sought their views on how we could campaign to support them as councillors. As a whole though, the link between most unions and the Labour party is very strong, so although we should develop cordial relationships between local unions and local parties, we should be strategic in where we put our efforts nationally.  I would want to wait to see what happens within the Labour party before making decisions on how to improve relationships with the unions, as many of them are strong supporters of Corbyn, as long as he is Leader unions are not going to be interested in allying themselves with us.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

Trade unions are hugely important in society in allowing workers to have a collective voice. As a whole unions have increased wages and improved working conditions over the past century and work hard to protect and support their individual members employment rights. I would like to think that in the very long-term, in a green society,  unions might not be necessary if we have a society where organisations are run democratically and so workers voices are heard as a matter of course and their rights are enshrined in the constitutions of organisations. In Bristol we have a very active tenants union called Acorn, and in the future I can see that unions might not be so allied to industry, but there will probably always be situations where collective action of the weak against those with economic power,  is effective and necessary.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

If we want trade unions to change their views, we need to recruit their members into the Green Party. Trade unions tend to try to represent what they believe their members want, and so will change if their members lobby for them to do so.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

I think our policies are OK as far as they go, as I support enshrining worker’s rights in law. I would be interested in a revision that looked at how to explicitly incorporate the labour theory of value into employment law and workers rights.

 


Katharina Boettge

facebook.com/KatForDeputyLeader

KatBoettgeHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

Currently this is a little more challenging than it might have been a couple of years ago when the unions showed their disengagement with Labour. I think we should encourage all levels of our party, from the membership, local and regional parties as well as from the national level to engage with unions. There are many areas where our policies are very compatible, on which more campaigning together would be beneficial. GP members who are also part of unions could be further encouraged to call from within for a wider, cross party engagement.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

Trade Union are extremely important at the moment, perhaps more so than ten years ago. Sadly the unions’ power has been systematically reduced again in recent years. Many workers are nowadays on zero hour contracts, often in short term contracts with diminishing rights. People, consequently, today appear to feel less protected by unions. We must be working together to protect workers’ rights. I would want to call on unions, grassroots movements and the wider left to work together, to move away from unions to support only one party ie Labour; but to work together, to mobilise the public and to campaign against austerity, the privatisation of public services and the diminishing of workers’ rights.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

First of all, to effectively oppose this government, we should move away from focusing on differences – and I mean that in the wider sense, not only regarding unions, but also Labour and other organisations. We must now unite, if we want to successfully protect our society from this unfair and profit driven neoliberal agenda and government.

However, to answer the question; unions are concerned about jobs, some of which are in industries that are environmentally unsustainable. The Green Party should make the case that we absolutely understand that jobs are important, but if an industry is environmentally, and like nuclear energy, economically unsustainable, fighting for these jobs and industry is too short term orientated. In the long term these jobs would not sustain. We have sound policies for a transition to a sustainable society. For example the Green New Deal would provide one million jobs. Solar energy, worldwide produces more jobs than the entire fossil fuel industry. Renewable industry would also bring money into the local economies, rather than just pushing profit to the top. I believe that this case must be made very clearly and thoroughly.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

I fully appreciate our strong values for the common good; we want to address causes rather than just symptoms. We understand that current problems for workers’ come from a systematic inequality, exploitative and neoliberal agenda to serve a few. We cannot solve individual problems effectively if we continue with this unfair set up. Additionally I strongly support our policies to democratise work places, which is obviously very compatible with unions. Furthermore our stance to encourage co-operatives and workers’ ownerships and/ or influences offer refreshing, fair and sensible solutions, which I believe would be very popular with unions.

 

GPEx Trade Union Liaison Officer candidates respond to GPTU questions

your-party-your-voice-right-columnContenders for the post of Trade Union Liaison Officer on the Green Party Executive (GPEx) have answered questions sent by the Green Party Trade Union Group, as voting begins in the party’s 2016 Leadership and Executive elections.

The Green Party Trade Union Group has asked each candidate to respond to a standard set of four questions, to gauge their attitudes to the Trade Union movement and how the Green Party should work with it. Their responses are set out below.

 


Lee Williscroft-Ferris

huffingtonpost.co.uk/lee-williscroftferris/

LEEWILLISCROFT-FERRISHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

I feel that it could be improved by more intensive lobbying of Trade Unions who adopt policies at odds with the principles of sustainability, the prime example being the renewal of Trident. We should also endeavour to make it clear to Trade Unions just how compatible I would also like to develop our party’s visible presence at Trade Union conferences and events. This would include having a stall at such events to enable us to deliver our message to a ‘captive’ Trade Union audience. There is clearly a job of work to be done to disseminate our key messages to Trade Unionists given that many conversations I have with colleagues reveal that there are widespread misperceptions about exactly what we stand for and just how powerful our policies are in terms of workers’ rights and the concept of work in general. In addition, I would, as TULO, encourage Green Trade Unionists to make their presence felt at conferences. For example, at both my union’s annual conference and the TUC LGBT Conference, I and others do just that, encouraging Trade Unions to work with all progressive parties for the common good.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

The Trade Union movement plays a more important role than ever at a time when workers’ rights are so drastically under threat from this government. There has never been a more important time for workers to join and be active in a Trade Union. The Green Party’s policies on Workers’ Rights and Employment make the links between the Trade Union movement and wider society abundantly clear. In a society built on collectivism, rather than individualism, Trade Unionism is a vital component. This forms part of the reason why we must fight the Trade Union Bill with all of our collective might as even though we have succeeded in fighting off some of the more extreme elements, there remains a job of work to be done.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

As mentioned above, some Trade Unions do indeed sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of the debate, not least on issues such as Trident renewal. All too often, a narrative of ‘jobs at any cost’ prevails, which the Trade Unions must be dissuaded from. I would envisage this being achieved through a relationship based on the principle of the ‘critical friend’. We have the benefit of not being funded by Trade Unions. We are therefore freer to lobby more honestly and intensively on issues where Trade Unions show themselves to be less progressive. I do believe that local Green Parties could be very powerful in this regard. By establishing links with local Trade Union branches, local parties would be in a very strong position to influence the position of TUs on crucial issues such as local planning.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

Our policies are robust, comprehensive and, most crucially, developed by members. I have to say, I am entirely happy with our policy in this area. In fact, this is the main reason I left the Labour Party in 2012 and joined the Green Party shortly afterwards. I believe that our policies on workers’ rights and trade unions are incredibly powerful. They encompass a global, national and local view of Trade Unionism based on building a sustainable world. Reading through the policies enables you to envision exactly what kind of world the Green Party is trying to build and precisely what role Trade Unions and workers’ rights will contribute to that world. As the discourse around Basic Income becomes more and more mainstream, we could perhaps consider being more specific in terms of how Basic Income would be implemented but ultimately, we are unique in committing to this concept in principle.

 


Kieron Merrett

kieronam.net

KIERONMERRETTHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

I’m proposing two strategies for improving our relationship with Trade Unions. The first is a more traditional ‘lobbying’ approach, which can we can apply to those unions where we’ve had some support in the past. Unfortunately, right now we’re in a tricky time for our relationship with these unions, as Corbynism has seen some Trade Union activists and leaders turn towards Labour. We need to work twice as hard in the next few years to remind these unions just how much we support each other’s aims. I’ve been doing this by bringing Green candidates to meetings of union members and by ensuring we have Greens showing support for their major disputes. I want to use the GPEx Trade Union Liaison Officer position to do this on a much bigger scale, engaging Greens from across the country to join in with these efforts.

The second strategy is the long-term strategy, aimed across the entire Trade Union movement. The aim is to build up a Green voice within the Trade Unions. To do this, I first want to get a picture of who in the Green Party is active in their union, form a network of these activists, and encourage more Greens to take a more active role in their union; I’ve started this work from the Green Party Trade Union Group, but I want to use the GPEx Trade Union Liaison Officer position to survey the party membership on a bigger scale and build up this movement. I also want to attract more Trade Unionists to support and join the Green Party; I’ve been doing this by setting up stalls and presences and creating banners and displays for the Green Party and the Green Party Trade Union Group at major Trade Union events, such as the Tolpuddle Festival and TUC Congress.

Fundamentally, I believe that one person alone can’t liaise with all the Trade Unions at all the levels. My aim as GPEx Trade Union Liaison Officer will be to build up a movement of Green Trade Unionists so that we have a strong Green voice in the Trade Union movement.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

Fundamentally, Trade Unions are there to make the relationship between workers and employers more equal – enabling the two sides to negotiate as equals, rather than the employers having all the power. So not only do unions allow working people to take greater control over their own lives and livelihoods; but they also lead to a more equal society, one in which working people’s wages rise relative to those of their bosses, in which discrimination and exploitation can be stopped, and in which more urgent concerns than the profit motive can be considered.

We can’t achieve this kind of society without Trade Unions. The Green Party has policies to put new laws in place to raise wages and create new employment rights, but legislation alone often makes no difference when workers are unorganised. In non-unionised workplaces, employment rules can go unenforced, health and safety can be ignored, and discrimination can go unaddressed. And whilst raising the minimum wage would be an enormous boost for many working people, without Trade Unions, workers could become perpetually dependent on the government for their next pay rise – and they would always be vulnerable to future governments changing the policy.

So the importance of the Trade Union movement lies in what kind of society we want to see. Certainly, the world is changing, and the role of Trade Unions will change over the years too. But if we want to see a society based on equality, solidarity, diversity and putting people before profit – one that stays that way for the long term – then we need to help more and more workers to become organised by joining or forming Trade Unions.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

We should remember that only a minority of Trade Unions have taken opposing policy positions to ours on issues such as fracking, Trident, airport expansion and nuclear energy, although these have included some larger unions. As a general rule, Green Party policy and Trade Union policies and campaigns overlap enormously.

To persuade them to change, it’s no good shouting at the unions from the outside. We need to create a strong Green voice in the Trade Union movement, by creating an organised movement of Green Trade Unionists and focusing on the many areas where the Green Party and the Trade Unions agree. Some of these have only lukewarm support from Trade Union members, and simply by beginning to build our Green network we can begin to push this support back. When these policies come up for debate at the Trade Unions’ various congresses and conferences, I want Greens to be present and ready to stand up and persuade their Trade Union sisters and brothers to think again.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

In general, the Green Party has the best policies for working people and for Trade Unions, and this is one of the main reasons I joined and became active in the party. Trade Unions are already embedded in our party’s vision for society, which is something I’m immensely proud of.

I’d like the party to flesh out its plans to enable a Trade Union ‘fightback,’ setting out the changes it would make to enable Trade Union membership and activism to return to growth and to start making society more equal. Along with the Green Party Trade Union Group, I’ve proposed two such policies for this year’s Autumn Conference: one confirming the party would repeal the Tories’ Trade Union Act, passed this year; and the other proposing a new right for Trade Unions to access non-unionised workplaces, which is already a successful policy in other countries.

There may eventually be scope for a full review of the party’s policies on employment and workers’ rights. I’d like our policies to set out more explicitly why organised labour is central to achieving our aims for working people, and how we can achieve many of our goals as Greens by enabling Trade Unions to organise workers more effectively.

 

Green Party Leadership candidates answer GPTU questions

your-party-your-voice-right-columnContenders for the post of Leader and Co-Leader of the Green Party have answered questions sent by the Green Party Trade Union Group, as voting begins in the party’s 2016 Leadership and Executive elections.

The Green Party Trade Union Group has asked each candidate to respond to a standard set of four questions, to gauge their attitudes to the Trade Union movement and how the Green Party should work with it. Their responses are set out below.

 


Jonathan Bartley and Caroline Lucas

bartleylucas.com

JONATHANBARTLEY-CAROLINELUCASHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

We’d like to offer better support to Green Party members who are active in trade unions, especially on how to start or advance campaigns in their workplaces. When we ran joint campaigns eg on the Trade Union Bill and the EU, we’ve strengthened and improved relationships, and we’d welcome at least one proactive positive campaign in the coming year, perhaps on something thing like a basic income, as well as opportunities to better roll these out and make them relevant to local parties.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

For us a fair Green society is one in which trade unions are able to collectively stand up for and represent workers and use their voice to campaign on key issues beyond the workplace, including equalities. Trade unions contribute significantly to our wage led economy and are valuable in creating economic stability. Strong trade unions are good for us all – not just those they represent. Trade unions also have a key role to play in shaping a progressive future and we are especially keen to involve them in discussion and debate about the potential for some kind of one off progressive alliance to secure voting reform, thereby paving the way for government that reflects the value of effective trade unions.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

We have more in common than we disagree over and focusing on those issues makes sense. But it’s also about dialogue and joint working to explore where we see things differently. Social and environmental justice are jointly at the heart of our approach and we need to get better at explaining that to others, as well as setting out our long term vision in a way that relates to the here and now for people in insecure jobs, whose workplace rights are under attack or who simply want more job creation. We need to be at trade union conferences, speaking to members in their work places, supporting Green trade unionists in their activities and continuing the work already underway through the GPTU and in Parliament.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

We’d like to see support for online voting allowed in strike ballots, for example, as well as an explicit statement about repealing the Trade Union Act. Given that many more people are working on freelance or self-employed contracts – and that these can be used to exploit workers or undermine their rights – our policies could be developed further. We’d also like our policies to identify ways to reinvigorate the trade union movement, grow membership and better reflect the proven economic benefits of trade unions, as well as their role in civil society.

 


David Malone

golemxiv.co.uk

How do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

One of the great weaknesses of the Green Party is that it has always been and continues to be very Middle Class.  There is much talk in the party of reaching out to minorities but far less talk of reaching out to the Working Class.  I would change this.  Talking to Trades Unions would be part of that effort. As leader I would invite Trades Unions to Green Events.  I would also seek invitations for Green leaders and members to speak at Trades Union events. I personally have spoken at the Trades Union Summer School at Ruskin College before and feel such events are the way to build links and trust.  The Green Party is not anti-jobs or even anti-industry. We are in fact very pro investment in cleaner future looking industry. And would seek to work together with Trades Unions to argue for investment in the industries which will be the keys to future employment and prosperity.  There have been mutual suspicions between the GP and Trades Unions. I feel it is imperative that these be overcome. I look at the  not-so-slow suicide of the Labour Party and feel it is more important than ever that the GP be a party which can speak up for and with the working class and Trades Unionists.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

For me the Trades Union Movement has an importance beyond fighting as it does for workers rights. And that is the very concept of solidarity. We live in an age where people are focused on their differences. I’m not saying such differences are unimportant. Recognizing that there are minority groups whose existence and rights have been ignored or dismissed is important. But equally we need to remember that for all of our differences, we need each other. We need to remember that some things – the desire for a decent job, economic security, hope for a fair distribution of the wealth this country produces – these are all things which can and should bind us together. The Trades Union movement is the last bastion of the feeling solidarity.  For this reason alone the Unions are important. I want to future that values the things which we share not just the things which make us different.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

Trades Unions care about the jobs and the livelihoods of their members. For them these two things go together – jobs and livelihoods.  I believe we can begin to argue that to protect livelihoods in to the future you need to do more than protect jobs today. The Green Party needs to make the argument that a real jobs policy needs to look ahead, needs to invest ahead, in the industries and livelihoods of tomorrow.  I believe the GP should be talking to the Trades Unions about an actual industrial policy complete with a national level strategy for longer term R&D.  There are key innovations today, such as Graphene based materials and the applications of Stem Cells, (to pick just two ) which will be the basis of tomorrow’s industry and tomorrow’s livelihoods.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

The main changes I would like to see are those which recognise how the trade agreements CETA, TTIP and TISA will make to Trades Unions and workers rights.  The trade agreements do look as if they will impact those rights. At the moment the Trades Unions seem to be in denial about this.  I would like to see the Green Party engage the unions in a debate at the highest level of the unions to try to persuade them to take a clear stand now.

 


David Williams

david-williams-greenleader.co.uk

DAVIDWILLIAMSHow do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

We should make clear to trade unions that we have the most progressive trade union recognition proposals for positive legislative recognition of trade unions of any party, and we would reverse obvious anti- trade union legislation. We should adopt an affiliation system where trade unions and environment groups and progressive organisations can directly affiliate to the Green Party and become part of our decision-making process.

I believe I am well-equipped to develop a good relationship with the trade unions.  I have 40 years experience of fighting to support workers in struggle in industrial disputes, starting with the Newcastle Laggers in 1973 and including the Pergamon Press dispute, the Miners’ strike, the two-year Silentnight strike (the longest strike in British industrial relations), the Liverpool Dockers strike, and most recently the current Junior Doctors’ strike. I have not just been on the picket line and ‘helping out’, but have frequently been a leading figure in local support organisations.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

They are vitally important in protecting people in their workplace from unscrupulous employers. They are also important as collective groupings of working people voicing a view on financial and environmental improvements in society for all people. Trade unions have always been and are still important as defenders of the most vulnerable in society.

I have a working lifetime of being a trade unionist: I have been active within my union since 1975 (NATFHE and now UCU), having been both a steward and chair of branch. For three years I worked as a TUC tutor/organiser on Merseyside at St Helen’s College, and I presently serve on Oxfordshire Trades Council as the UCU rep.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

Only a small number of trade unions actively oppose our environmental stances. It is a matter of addressing fears and finding green alternative job security. In the arms industry for example, we must offer government support to retrain and reorientate workers to use their skills more productively in peaceful manufacturing. We should open direct negotiations and consultations with the few trade unions represented in the arms industry.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

There is fine-tuning to make to some of the policies, for example on workshop recognition. We need to promote worker representation on management boards. I would like to see unions respond to the challenge of cooperatives; we need to have a proper dialogue. I also want to turn the party into an effective organisation supporting workers in struggle e.g. the junior doctors.

 


Clive Lord

clivelord.wordpress.com

CLIVELORD

The  Citizens’ Basic Income forms the basis of my replies to all four questions.

How do you think the relationship between the Green Party and the Trade Unions should or could be improved, and what do you intend to do to improve it?

The Basic income gives individual workers equal bargaining power with employers, therefore persuasion and co-operation will become the cultural norm. Market forces are rightly thought  of as oppressive at present, but  with the BI, they can determine hourly wage rates., Health and safety issues will be the main function of Unions. I would certainly want dialogue with them.

In your view, what is the importance of the Trade Union movement in our present society, and what will be its importance in the type of society we in the Green Party would like to build?

Unions will have a place in a Green society, but it will differ in many respects from their traditional role, as foreshadowed in 1.

Some Trade Unions have adopted positions on environmental issues which are fundamentally opposed to ours. How do you think the Green party could persuade these Trade Unions to change their views on such matters?

As above! Naturally, a Trade Union focusses on the interests of its members as they see it. Throughout the 1984 miners’ strike, I was (unheard) proposing a basic income as a way of regenerating mining communities without the need for dangerous work which was damaging the ecosphere.

What is your view on current Green Party policy on Trade Unions and workers’ rights, and what changes or updates would you want to see, if any?

I shall discuss with those more closely involved in this field, in the above context.

 

Green Trade Unionists make an impact at Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival 2016

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Derek Hardman (left), Brian Heatley (centre) and Kieron Merrett (right)

The Green Party Trade Union Group made a huge impact at this year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival – one of the most prominent Trade Union events of the year – thanks to a collaborative effort by Kieron Merrett (GPTU Secretary), Brian Heatley (West and South Dorset Greens), Derek Hardman, and a host of Green Party activists who came to the festival.

In conjunction with West and South Dorset Greens and other Green Party activists, we made our presence felt. Our stall in the main marquee displayed the Green Party’s recent work for Trade Unions, particularly on the Trade Union Bill, and gathered support for the Green Party’s proposal for a Progressive Alliance. Meanwhile, we put on a show during the main march, with a strong Green bloc displaying the GPTU and Dorset Greens banners.

GPTU is looking forward to attending TUC Congress later this year to continue this work of promoting the Green Party and its work to the Trade Union movement – and of course we’ll be back at Tolpuddle next year!

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GPTU and Dorset Greens’ bloc on the main march in memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs
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GPTU and Dorset Greens’ busy stall on the Sunday morning of the festival

 

GPTU at Latitude Festival 2016

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Latitude Festival
We’re delighted to announce that the Green Party Trade Union Group will be at Latitude Festival (14th-17th July) for the first time in 2016, via the Workers’ Beer Company.

The Workers’ Beer Company was set up by Trade Unionists from the Battersea and Wandsworth Trades Council in 1986, to raise funds for striking miners and other workers in dispute. Today, still run by BWTUC, it operates at Glastonbury and Latitude as well as several Irish festivals and other individual events. It raises funds for Trade Union branches and the wider labour movement – and still prioritises trade union branches in the middle of disputes.

Our allocation is full this year, but if you’d be interested in coming to Latitude with GPTU next year, let us know (and join us if you’re not already a member!).

GPTU at Tolpuddle Festival 2016

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Tolpuddle Festival

GPTU will have a strong presence at the 2016 Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival (15th-17th July) in Dorset, one of the most important events on the Trade Union movement’s calendar.

The festival is a celebration of Trade Unionism, and remembers the six Tolpuddle Martyrs, whose sacrifice is regarded as the birth of organised labour in Britain.

We are grateful to all Greens who can attend and help set up and run the Green Party / GPTU stall  any time from the Friday afternoon (15th July) to the Sunday (17th July) – and more importantly, if any Greens would like to march under the GPTU banner on Sunday 17th July. If you’re going to be there, please let us know!

June committee meeting – MOVED to 7th July

GPTU logo - vertical - RGB - green backgroundThe date of this meeting has been changed to 7th July 2016 at 7pm. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Our next GPTU committee meeting will be on Thursday, 7th July at 7pm. at Development House, 56-64 Leonard St, London, EC2A 4LT.

The meeting will also be accessible by Skype – please contact us if you wish to participate by Skype and let us know your Skype name in advance.

GPTU members are invited to attend committee meetings.

 

GPTU June/July newsletter

Dear GPTU member,

I’m writing to you in the wake of the disastrous EU referendum result, with its potentially catastrophic consequences for Trade Unions and working people. Needless to say, GPTU, the Green Party and many of our Trade Unions will continue to campaign for workers’ rights and for solidarity with our fellow European workers.

In the meantime, we’ve got lots of activity coming up!

 

Can you help us prioritise Trade Union motions at this year’s Green Party Autumn Conference?

The Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) has submitted two Trade Union motions for Autumn Conference 2016. We now need Green Party members to vote to prioritise these motions, to ensure they make it onto the final agenda.

If you’re a Green Party member, please complete the prioritisation ballot and put GPTU’s two motions at the top of your priorities in the “C” section. This just takes a few minutes!

The two GPTU motions are listed in the “C” section as:

  •     Cβ 9. Opposition to the Conservatives’ Trade Union Act
  •     Cβ 10. Statutory right of access to workplaces for Trade Unions

The link to the prioritisation ballot is here – click here to complete the ballot in just a few minutes.

You can read the full text of the motions and the list of supporters here (Green Party login required)

 

GPTU at Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival 2016, 15th-17th July

GPTU will have a strong presence at the 2016 Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival (15th-17th July) in Dorset.

If you’re going to be at the festival, including if you’re just there on the Sunday, please let Kieron know, particularly if you can help us run the stall or if you would like to march with us on the Sunday march! Thanks very much to those who have already been in touch.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in Dorset, one of the most important events on the Trade Union movement’s calendar, is a celebration of Trade Unionism, and remembers the six Tolpuddle Martyrs, whose sacrifice is regarded as the birth of organised labour in Britain.

Anyone can attend the exhibition, march and concert on Sunday 17th July for free – see here for details of FREE transport from across the UK to Tolpuddle and back.

If you’d like to attend for the entire weekend for the Trade Union talks, concerts, film screenings and more, you can camp at the festival. See here for details and prices – and please note that if you’re a GMB member, you can camp at the festival for free.

 

GPTU members’ survey – have you filled it in yet?

If you’re an existing member of GPTU, please take our survey by clicking here if you haven’t already. This takes literally three or four minutes to complete!

If you’re a new member who’s joined in the last few months, you won’t need to fill this in.

 

Committee meeting moved to Thursday 7th July, 7pm

Please note that our Committee meeting, which was postponed from a few weeks ago, has been moved  to Thursday, 7th July at 7pm. We will have a London venue (TBC – please watch this space for announcement) and will also be available by Skype.

If you’d like to join by Skype, please get in touch with Kieron by 6pm on Thursday.

All GPTU committee meetings are open to all GPTU members.

Recent news

Here’s some of our recent activity in GPTU:

 

I hope to see you at Tolpuddle, Autumn Conference, or another GPTU event soon!

In solidarity,

Kieron Merrett
Secretary, Green Party Trade Union Group

Greens: help us prioritise Trade Union motions at Autumn Conference 2016

surveyThe Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) has submitted two Trade Union motions for Autumn Conference 2016, which are now being considered for prioritisation.

If you’re a Green Party member and you haven’t already completed the prioritisation ballot, please do so and consider putting GPTU’s two motions at the top of your priorities in the “C” section. This just takes a few minutes!

The two GPTU motions are listed in the “C” section as:

  • Cβ 9. Opposition to the Conservatives’ Trade Union Act
  • Cβ 10. Statutory right of access to workplaces for Trade Unions

The link to the prioritisation ballot is here – click here to complete the ballot in just a few minutes.

You can read the full text of the motions and the list of supporters here (Green Party login required).

Unless Green Party members vote to prioritise these motions, they may not make it onto the agenda for discussion at Autumn Conference.

Green Trade Unionists support NUT and UCU education strikes

imageThe Green Party Trade Union Group (GPTU) unequivocally support today’s education strikes called by NUT and UCU.

91% of teachers balloted support the NUT strike, demonstrating the level of concern amongst teachers in regards to the Government’s education plans.

In schools, the Government”s “Education for All” Bill will mean real term cuts in funding, with major effects on schools and teachers. This will further erode terms and conditions, increase workload and impede pay progression for teachers.

Furthermore, the government’s academisation plans are the wrong priority at a time where there is a teacher shortage and a lack of pupil places. Whilst the cost of the process of academisation is estimated at £1.3bn, there is no evidence that turning schools into academies will make them better – an appalling waste of money at a time where the education budget is being reduced.

Meanwhile, UCU members in Higher Education are on strike for a second time over low pay, gender inequality and casualisation of employment contracts. GPTU previously supported UCU’s dispute and pledged to continue to do so.

Whilst other major parties are leaderless, the Green Party has expressed its full support for teachers and Higher Education workers on strike today.