Vote Time For Change
NIPSA, NORTHERN Ireland's largest trade union, is about to enter a critical election. The vote for the union's executive, the General Council, comes on the back of a series of industrial disputes that have tested the metal of the leadership at all levels of the union.
By Padraig Mulholland.
NIPSA General Council (personal capacity)
What is evident from these disputes is that NIPSA has a membership that is quickly gaining confidence and sees the need to fight to defend and improve their working conditions.
Unfortunately the elected leadership have not all proven to be up to the job of giving the members the support that they need.
Although the membership, particularly at a branch level, are prepared to take on the management, some of the leadership have become too comfortable in their relations with management, are too satisfied with their own lifestyles and have lost the ability to effectively lead serious struggles.
The "Time for Change" (TFC) group in NIPSA is campaigning to make the leadership changes that are necessary.
TFC is a broad based group of NIPSA members, including Socialist Party supporters, who have linked up to offer an alternative strategy to members.
They have played an effective role in the disputes in the last year and have a proven track record of winning gains for members.
This should hold them in good stead in the election even though TFC starts with the disadvantage of not having the same resources as the old leadership.
The election of a left majority on the General Council will be a step forward. If that majority can link with and encourage the development of a new layer of activists at a branch level NIPSA will be able to face the future with a new confidence.