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.

 

One thought on “Green Party Leadership candidates answer GPTU questions

  1. David Malone is a stand out advocate for Democratic rights and is a natural advocate for trade unions and the real need for Solidarity for both waged and un-waged people represented by the Trades Union movement. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE8JpEHxI-Q when David says we need to challenge Neo Liberal assumptions and stand up to the Lieing narratives of Austerity he means it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *