From International Socialism (1st series), No.96, March 1977, p.11.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Election Address of Bill Geddes, one of two Right to Work candidates for NUPE executive
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I believe that for the foreseeable future the main priority for NUPE members will be the fight to save the jobs and services we have battled for and won over the past 30 years. Victory In this struggle is certainly possible. I believe however, that this can only be achieved by mobilising the full strength of our union. NUPE’s membership is now a massive 620,000 yet in the entire history of the union there has never been joint national action by the entire membership; in the battle against the cuts it is madness to imagine that we can win by fighting a ditch by ditch campaign.
I firmly believe that only mass national action by NUPE and other unions will stop the cuts. Our present National Executive are obviously unwilling to lead this action; the reason for this reluctance can be summed up in two words – Social Contract! When asked what they think of the Social Contract the London EC members have replied that we just have to accept it and work within its guidelines. This attitude is pathetic when you consider that the effect of the Social Contract has been to slash our standard of living, condemn many thousands of workers onto the unemployment scrapheap and now threatens our health, education and social services. Yet again a Labour government has failed to deliver the goods; perhaps they should nave called It the Anti-Social contract.
A break with the Social Contract is an essential step which I hope will be taken at this year’s National Conference; the way will then be open to initiate national mass action against the government’s anti-working class policies; as a member of the National Executive this is certainly what I would argue for. As the purpose of this address is to ask that you vote for me in the Executive Council elections, I would like to outline briefly the kind of policies I support. Probably the single most important change I would welcome Is a more democratic union. By this I mean regular election of all NUPE officers by the rank and file members they represent. The union fulltimers should at all times be under the control of the ordinary members – at present we don’t even know how much they are paid. Many of the present NUPE officers have socially more In common with the bosses than with their members; occasionally. It is debatable as to which side they are on. This situation will continue until the rank and file has control over the officers’ actions. In 1977, I believe that the demands the EC should put on the employers are a minimum wage of £60, a 35 hour week with no loss of pay – NOW! And an end to all cuts and closures. If these aims cannot be achieved by negotiation, I feel the EC must recommend massive militant action on a national level.
To conclude, I think the potential exists for NUPE to show the labour movement the way forward in the fight to deliver the fruits of the labour Into the hands of those who toil – the working class.
Bill Geddes was born in Scotland 34 years ago; he has been a member of a trade union for 17 years.
Last updated on 12.1.2008