Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Exclusive: Amicus plans to shaft T&G

Amicus officials seem pretty damn confident that they will secure every single one of the top jobs when their union merges with the T&G early in 2007, and are surprisingly sure that they will win elections that will not be held for several years. The spirit of good old EETPU's legendary machine politics lives on, and membership views hardly seem to matter.

That seems to be the only conclusion to draw after reading this transcript of meeting addressed by Amicus deputy general secretary Graham Goddard and Chris Weldon, the union’s national political officer. Organised by the Amicus Unity left faction, it was held at South Shields Town Hall on July 6.

‘Derek [Simpson, Amicus leader] has decided to put me into the position of being the next general secretary of the union,’ Goddard boasts. ‘The succession policy is well underway. It has been discussed at the highest possible level and cannot be stopped.’

Nevertheless, he is clearly anticipating a bit of a scrap: ‘There is no way that the T&G wants an Amicus general secretary to run the new union and there is no way that Amicus wants Woodley to run the new union and we are not going to give the reins to Woodley.

‘We are now at the level of how we are going to work out how to get an Amicus general secretary to take over the merged union and how to have all 12 regions controlled by Amicus regional secretaries.’

I reprint edited extracts exactly as they came to me, without tidying up the spelling or grammar. They start with a speech from Goddard, before moving on to a question and answer session. Warning. If you a TGWU bureaucrat with a dodgy ticker, do not read on:

If you take the analysis about the merger position outlined by Derek to the NEC then we have to get our people in position so that the T&G do not take control of the new union.

If you take the senior management position then Derek has 3 and-a- half years to go before retirement; Doug Collins will retire at the same time. Then you have Ed Sweeny of UNIFI and Tony Dubbins.

The agreement has been made that when Tony goes Ed has agreed to go at the same time and Tony retires early next year. So if you look at things at the senior management level you will see that going into the merger the senior management team will be way down on the numbers its all about politics and political power. People know this and its all about how people are replaced …

The other side of it is when you look at the position around the two women assistant general secretaries. One of these Gail Cartmell who has been criticised because she suffers from ex-SWP-iteis but is now seen as a right winger and we are not going to knock that but she heads up the public sector in the health sector.

… We have never had a woman in the senior management team since Lucy Kelly or Anderson if you knew her who was an Assistant General Secretary who left last year. Since then we have not had a woman in the senior management team and we have been criticised for that. We have corrected this now but we need to face up to the equalities issue inside the new union as well.

If there is one thing the T&G has not got a good structure on it is the equalities thing this and if you look at the T&G you will see that they are in a far weaker position than we are and so we can see that we will be able to appeal more with a woman in the senior management team.

So thats one side of the issue the other side of it is that Derek has decided to put me into the position of being the next General Secretary of the union. Now people might say why should Goddard be the next General Secretary, whats he ever done. Well this is one reason Im here tonight and other Unity meetings over the next few months and thats why Im doing this now because time is short and I need to get out and meet people.

Now for a General Secretary to put into place a succession policy while he is still in power is a big plus for democracy [!] and our union because no matter what is said and I and all of us have been through the Jackson era and we are all in a campaigning union now making the members voice heard and the way that democracy is coming and the way the union moves is in total contrast to where we were and we have to take that on board.

I will not be Derek Simpsons clone even though I might sound like him. When I take over [as General Secretary] I will not operate like Derek because we are two different people. The succession policy is well under way its been discussed at the highest possible level and cannot be stopped. All people in the union whether right, left or what have you understand that this is part of the policy that we must look at …

One of the things that the Deputy General Secretary and the appointments people has done is to flush out people like Kevin Coyne and Ian Waddle and Les Bayliss who all want to be general secretary because I want it …

Derek has been criticised for not turning up to Gazette meetings and there are politics around this because the trots have been involved in politics influencing the Gazette and we have spent more time talking about this than talking about things that the Gazette ought to be doing such as union campaigns and we ought to keep that going.

This is a quick synopsis of where we are at now … If I dont get the Gazette candidature to run as next General Secretary and thats to look at inside the merger because there is no way that the T&G want Amicus General Secretary to run the new union and there is no way that Amicus wants Woodley to run the new union and we are not going to give the reins to Woodley.

If Derek goes in 3 and a half years time and Woodley has got another 4 years after that we are NOT [Goddards emphasis] going to hand over the reins to Woodley and thats the big debate at this stage thats going on …

We are now at the level of how we are going to work out how to get an Amicus General Secretary to take over the merged union and how to have all 12 regions controlled by Amicus regional secretaries …

Now that the GMB has gone and this is not the bad thing we would have thought a year ago because the size of the GMB pension fund deficit would have brought down the 3 unions. The deficit is £90 to £120 million but no one knows exactly how much.

Q by a shop steward
So when will the election of General Secretary be


A by Graham Goddard
To be just on with Derek Leaving or retiring in 3 or 3 and a half years time. His birthday is in December and hes 62 now and so its about on time for that


Interjection by shop steward
So its gonna be a long campaign then


A by Graham Goddard
Yea, yea, thats why we are consolidating currently from where I got the DGS job and they said dont go flying about everywhere but obviously people are asking the question and this is why Jeff [Tate] invited me here tonight because of the questions that people have asked me tonight but I am not going to go round everywhere that quick. Its obvious about what you said about it being a long campaign and I have to get the experience of doing the DGS job and Im currently doing a regional secretaries job also. So I had better be careful about what I say as well and not get out of step.


There’s plenty of other interesting stuff in the memo, too, particularly about trade union plans to increase influence in the Labour Party. But as it could provide ammunition for the Tories, I’ll just keep quiet on that score. See what a good comrade I am really?

Oh, and a big thank you to the mole who leaked me the memo. Similar contributions always welcome.

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