Article from the June 2005 issue of the Socialist
newspaper of the Socialist Party, Irish section of the CWI
NIPSA Conference 2005
Gains for the Left
by Carol Barnett NIPSA General Council (Personal Capacity)
THERE WAS a further shift to the left at the Annual Conference of NIPSA, held at the start of June. The outgoing General Council (Executive), which had a right wing majority, was defeated on a number of key issues.
Most significant was the decision of the Conference to support a motion recognising that non payment was the only way to ensure that water charges will be defeated. The platform speaker opposed the motion but the Conference gave overwhelming backing to the non payment call.
Socialist Party member, Carmel Gates stood down as President due to the convention that a President serves only three years. However, the hopes of the right wing that they would take back this position were dashed when Billy Lynn, also a Socialist Party member and a longstanding activist in the union, was elected in her place.
As well as backing the fight against the proposed attacks on pensions, public services and jobs, the Conference carried motions on wider issues such as offering solidarity to those made homeless in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami and agreeing that the distribution of aid should be managed by local committees of the workers and trade unions.
A motion backing the campaign of the McCartney family for justice for their murdered brother and calling for the disbandment of all paramilitary organisations was passed. So was a call for NIPSA to campaign for the immediate withdrawal of all US and British occupying forces from Iraq.
On a disappointing note, calls for setting up a political fund and branch funds were defeated. This shows the need to do more work in explaining these issues to members before next year's Conference.
Socialist Party members and other left candidates did well in the Conference elections. On the Public Officers' Executive, five SP members were re-elected with SP members Tanya Killen elected Chair and Brian Booth elected as Vice Chair. 19 of the 25 members of the Executive are members of the left Time for Change group of which the Socialist Party is a part.
Five SP members were also elected onto the Civil Service Executive, with Carmel Gates successfully winning the Chair position. This is an increase on previous years and, with the increased numbers of the left on the General Council and the PO Executive, it is vital that the left now work together to map out a programme to return democratic control of the union back to the members.
Billy Lynn elected President
BILLY LYNN spoke to The Socialist: "My election comes on the back of the civil service pay dispute and the current struggle to halt and reverse the cuts in education and other services. The right wing of this union have been found wanting and the members are voting for a fighting leadership that is prepared to stand up to the New Labour government. We need to resist privatisation and stand alongside other public service unions in opposing Blunkett's attempt to slash our pension entitlement.
"I want to carry on where the outgoing President, Carmel Gates, left off and make sure that NIPSA is a fully democratic fighting union that fights on behalf of all our members."