In recent weeks I've criticised the National Distribution Union for its hopeless response to the sacking of over 180 Lane Walker Rudkin workers. Steadfastly refusing to flex its industrial muscle, the response of the NDU hierarchy has been cowardly.

The NDU national secretary, Liala Harre, began a 'campaign' of cake stalls designed to raise money so, claimed Harre, 'workers could help each other'.

Judging by the Facebook site set up to 'co-ordinate' the cakes, it appears that the cake stall campaign has died a quick death. There has been no further entries on the site since May 24. In cookery terms, this unappetising campaign has gone flat.

Since more LWR redundancies are on the cards the NDU better have something more substantial to offer the LWR workers than more cup cakes and muffins.

As part of the May Day celebrations at Blackball this year, Paul Watson was asked to give a speech. Watson is the southern secretary of the NDU.

Family matters prevented Watson giving his speech in person but it has been posted on the Life of Working People blog.

In a speech titled 'Has Capitalism Had It's Day?' Watson offers a few thoughts on formulating an alterative economic and political strategy to the current neoliberal consensus.

Watson writes:

We Need to Demand that

-Politicians accept that the current international financial system has failed and engage in a “real” debate about alternatives at a global , national and local level.

-Organise Regional community based “New Economy “ forums where alternative economic models are discussed and recommended and broad based community representatives are elected to participate in a National Hui whose purpose is input regional views into forming a new genuine political and economic change. This should occur irrespective whether the current government opposes it.

Some principles underpinning future economic models need good debate but could include ;

- People to have a real voice in their future

- The future has to be sustainable for people

- State ownership and control of strategic assets and our productive capacity should be given priority.

- Economic activity should be orientated towards redistributing more wealth staying in this country and not siphoned off shore.

- Monetary institutions to have much greater regulation and accountability over financial transaction activity.

- Disbursement around economic recovery packages to sustain welfare provisions, employment, families and communities.

Of course we can argue about the merits and weaknesses of such proposals - Watson simply puts them forward as a starting point for discussion - but the immediate and obvious question is this: Why haven't we heard such proposals from the NDU itself - or the CTU for that matter?

The telling statement is in Watson's preamble where he comments that his views are entirely 'personal' and 'and not those necessarily held by the NDU.'

From where I'm sitting NONE of his views are held by the dreary NDU officialdom.

Watson's views about developing economic alternatives, of course, do not sit well with a trade union bureaucracy which remains uncritically loyal to the neoliberal and politically bankrupt Labour Party.


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