[Marxism] Open letter to the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers’ Party from union activists

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 31 06:37:32 MST 2013


Open letter to the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers’ Party 
from union activists
Posted on January 31, 2013 by atoscano

We are all union activists who work with SWP members in our union 
branches, in the various democratic bodies in our unions and in the 
wider union movement. Some of us have SWP members in our workplaces, 
some of us participate in SWP led campaigns or vote for SWP members in 
elections. Many of us, whatever our politics, recognise that our SWP 
comrades can be relied on to speak up for our class and union members’ 
interests, to be at the forefront of campaigns, to turn up on picket 
lines, and to support those of us who are victimised for our union 

For these reasons, we have not been able to ignore the recent crisis in 
the SWP. We have been concerned, and at times appalled, as we have heard 
about complaints being swept under the carpet in 2011, disciplinary 
committees including close friends of the accused, women quizzed about 
irrelevant details of their behaviour and drinking habits, SWP members 
instantly dismissed for discussing these matters, while another member 
who has been the subject of complaints continues to represent SWP 
campaigns, and the revelation that the word ‘feminist’ is used as an 
insult within the party.

No one is saying that other left organisations have an unblemished 
record when it comes to dealing with sexism, sexual harrassment, or 
sexual assault, but the SWP Central Committee now appear to be ignoring 
the many voices both inside and outside their party who are telling them 
that they have got it badly wrong. Instead, Alex Callinicos wrote an 
article that avoided all mention of the women involved, and dismissed 
accusations of harrassment, and worse, as “gossip”. It is clear that the 
CC are not listening to the significant number of members who are 
expressing their dismay at recent events.

While many of us welcome the recent open letter from academics and 
others who speak at SWP events, our message to you is different. We are 
not saying we won’t work with SWP members. That isn’t even an option, 
while we are in the same unions we will of course be working side by 
side. But, your members are right, it has changed things. We are 
dismayed, we are appalled, we feel uncomfortable round SWP members 
unless we know that like many of your members, they are equally appalled.

If the CC continue to respond by ignoring the issue or closing down 
debate, as well as losing some great activists, you are going to find 
your remaining members have a harder time organising, campaigning, and 
making connections with other union members, through no fault of their 
own, but through the fault of their Central Committee, who are putting 
them in an impossible position.

Fortunately there is still time to reconsider, and we hope that you do.

All names in a personal capacity.

Glyn Harries, UNISON Local Govt
H. Akram, UNISON Health
H. Smith, GMB
Harry Stephens, UNISON HE
Jack Green, UNISON Local Govt
James Collins, UNISON Health
Jon Rogers, UNISON Local Govt
and UNISON National Executive Committee
Kirstie Paton, NUT
Louise Lambe, UNISON HE
Marshajane Thompson, UNISON Local Govt
and chair of UNISON United Left
Mille Wild, UCU
Naomi Bain, UNISON HE
Phil Dickens, PCS
Richard Brodie, UCU

If you are a union rep and would like to add your signature, please 
email unionopenletterswp at gmail.com

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