Postal Drivers Seek Injunction
Postal Drivers formerly of the Communications Workers’ Union seek injunction preventing expulsion from the Independent Workers’ Union”.
It is with deep sadness and regret that we make public the actions of the General Secretary and the majority of the National Executive. It is beholden on union members to use the democratic structures of their union to resolve internal disputes rather than washing our dirty laundry in public. Similarly, the use of court injunctions against the union is normally a tactic of employers or the state in dispute against our members defending their rights. But in this case our members have been arbitrarily and illegally deprived of the democratic rights that our union handbook mandates them. Further the decision of the General Secretary and the majority of the National Executive to go against the explicit mandate of our recent National Conference, the sovereign body of the union, leaves us with no other course of action.
The unjustifiable and scandalous attempt to expel the An Post delivery drivers from our union is motivated by the demands of Unite the union’s chief organiser who has been in negotiations with our General Secretary with a view to amalgamating the IWU into Unite. In a letter to the Annual Delegate Conference of the IWU, the head of negotiations for Unite announced that the presence of the An Post drivers in the IWU was a barrier to any further progress to those negotiations. Additionally, upon request of the General Secretary of the IWU, he subsequently co-authored an ‘independent’ report into the circumstances upon which the Postal Drivers were taken into membership of the IWU, which ultimately recommended that the members concerned should return to the Communications Workers’ Union , thus resolving the matters stalling the amalgamation talks.
It is in that context that the first meeting of the National Executive after the ADC has passed this motion to begin the process of expelling the An Post drivers from the IWU. No other reason has been given, because no other reason exists.
What is at stake here is not only the constitutional rights of the An Post drivers to join a union of their choice, but the same right for all the workers on this island. The High Court of Ireland has upheld the right of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to forbid any member union from accepting into membership the ex-members of another ICTU union, unhappy with their representation. In effect, this means that the constitutional right of workers to join a union of their choice is invalidated by ICTU. The Independent Workers Union was set up specifically to afford workers caught in this hostage situation the opportunity to join a democratic union that would allow them to defend their rights within the law, by having access to a negotiating licence. The negotiating licence of the IWU is one of the last instruments outside the social partnership stitch-up between IBEC, ICTU and the state, available to workers on this island. The aim of the negotiations between Unite and the IWU General Secretary is to end that opportunity. In effect, the course of action the General Secretary and the majority of the National Executive have decided on, is to liquidate the independence of the Independent Workers Union and betray the very principles and purpose this union was founded for.
But this union and the negotiating licence it holds, is not the private property of the General Secretary and his supporters on the NEC. It belongs to the members of this union, the ESB workers and An Post drivers included, but not only them. And our most recent Annual Conference passed a motion declaring that no decision on the deal to amalgamate with Unite should be taken without a special conference at which all members of the union would have a right to attend, to be properly informed of all the consequences and a final decision to accept or reject the offer put to the vote of the full membership. It is this decision the General Secretary and his supporters on the National Executive, have unilaterally disregarded by attempting to illegally evict the An Post drivers from this union.
The union handbook states that members of the IWU join their local branch ,and the An Post drivers have joined the Dublin and General Workers union branch and have the full, unanimous support of that branch's committee and activist membership. We, the Dublin Postal Drivers’ Branch, entirely refute the right of the General Secretary and the NEC to expel our members without any pretext given, and are and will remain members in good standing of this union. We believe the right for all workers to the freedom to join a union of their choice is a fundamental right and we are prepared to fight for it by all necessary means, within the law.