Unions & politics

Trade union struggle and political struggle - an interview with John McDonnell

John McDonnell, Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington and former Shadow Chancellor, spoke to Sacha Ismail. After Labour Party conference, what do you think will happen with Starmer’s leadership? Do you think he’ll be around for a long time? It’s impossible to tell at the moment. At the conference he used the traditional Blairite, Mandelson playbook. Attack your own party to demonstrate you’re a strong leader; do a big personal speech to try to demonstrate you’re a normal human being; make banal statements instead of policy commitments. It didn’t work: the bounce in the polls didn’t happen. The...

Issues behind CWU conference

The option presented by the Executive to the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) Special Virtual Conference on 7-9 November, to maintain the union’s affiliation to the Labour Party, is right. But the detail it contains, a focus on lobbying and supporting the Labour metro mayors, makes no sense. Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary, has moved on a little, but essentially this is a reprise from when Dave Ward pushed disaffiliation to gain profile against Billy Hayes, whom he defeated for general secretary in 2015. He did that to appear more left-wing, though in fact Hayes, for all his flaws, was...

Unison activists protest against stitch-up

From the Time for Real Change in Unison campaign We are angry and dismayed that Unison has voted for the Labour Party rule changes it did... particularly the increase to 20% of the threshold of MPs by which leadership candidates are nominated. The Unison vote was key to it passing. This vote contradicted formal Unison Labour Link policy set in 2018 to reduce the nominating threshold to 10%. The Unison Conference delegation had no mandate or rulebook right to overturn National Labour Link Committee policy in this area and has chosen to set a dangerous precedent. Unison also opposed the original...

CWU to debate Labour links

The agenda for the 7-9 November Special Virtual Conference of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) has been released. Motions from branches were only permitted on subjects designated by the NEC. That said, this will enable activists the first opportunity in a long time to debate some key issues. The event will open with a section on Anti-Racism, which is unlikely to be controversial, followed by one on Politics, which certainly will be. Here the choice will be a complete break with Labour or a reduction in financial support to the party. The latter is the National Executive Committee (NEC)...

Attack on trade union political action

One aspect not covered in the article in Solidarity 606 on the Elections Bill is the specific attack on trade union funding in elections. A provision in the bill would further restrict campaigning by non-party groups. It would also affect initiatives like Labour for a Socialist Europe (or Vote Leave), but would have a larger impact on the affiliated unions. It would mean joint campaigns require the declaration of spending by all groups involved, both reducing the total amount available and creating further bureaucracy. Currently non-party groups are allowed to spend up to ÂŁ390,000 in an...

Support firefighters' Green New Deal motion to Labour conference

The Labour Party’s Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) has sparked outrage by ruling out of order the “Green Jobs Revolution” motion promoted for Labour conference by the Labour for a Green New Deal (LGND) campaign and submitted by at least 21 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs). They have ruled out 45 submissions in all, including one called "Build Back Fairer" about the pandemic and reconstruction, submitted by Newark and Newcastle East CLPs and promoted by Momentum Internationalists. It advocates taxing the rich to attack inequality and reconstruct society. LGND and others are protesting...

Trade unions break silence over the Police Bill. Will they mobilise?

Back in the weeks after the murder of Sarah Everard by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, militant protests against the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill swept the Labour Party into voting against the Tories’ plans in Parliament, which Keir Starmer’s leadership had not intended to do. They also swept trade unions into making public statements and so on against the Bill. However, only a scattering of small unions (IWGB and UVW) and individual union branches made any real effort to mobilise on the streets. Quickly even the statements from trade unions dried up and...

Vote left for Unison Labour Link

With the success in June of the “Time For Real Change” left slate in the National Executive Committee (NEC) elections for the public services union Unison, the union’s Labour Link Committee, mandated to guide the union’s activity within the Labour Party, could for the first time be controlled by the left. Unison have election rules which ban slates in elections, but both right and left of the union have one candidate in each contested seat. (Some are uncontested). Voting runs from 7 Sep to 13 Oct. The left candidates are: East Midlands - Anjona Roy Greater London - Ruth Cashman Northern -...

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