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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 June 2017

GMB conference: angry mood from delegates not reflected by leadership

GMB members want action, photo Claire Job

GMB members want action, photo Claire Job   (Click to enlarge)

Kim Hendry, GMB union PCS branch and GMB conference delegate (personal capacity)

Up to 800 delegates met in Plymouth from 4-6 June for the 100th congress of the general union GMB.

Delegates heard a wide range of motions, although the packed timetable - two days shorter due to the snap general election - meant there was even less debate than usual.

The most controversial motion was the leadership report on energy, which included qualified support for fracking. While the report was carried, a growing number of delegates were confident enough to express opposition.

Two motions which sought very modest improvements to rectify the democratic deficit in congress debate were passed, against the wishes of the leadership.

Two important motions - one setting out a partial, fighting programme to defend the NHS, was carried with qualification. The other calling for mandatory reselection of Labour MPs, was defeated. respectively. The reselection motion was was moved by Socialist Party member Tony Davidson.

Against these disappointing but predictable developments, delegates agreed a range of progressive policies on such issues as defending migrants, fighting racism and Islamophobia, and increasing the diversity of GMB reps.

Gig economy

There was also a report on precarious work and the gig economy including a new GMB survey which found that one-third of all UK workers are now on zero-hour contracts and other forms of insecure employment.

As in recent years, the unifying theme of many motions was the appalling human impact of Tory austerity cuts, both for workers and service users.

NHS porters, ambulance drivers, teaching assistants, council staff and care home workers - angry, demoralised and stressed - lined up to tell their stories.

But as usual, there was a striking disconnect between the problems identified and the lack of a clear programme of action.

Much of this can be attributed to the GMB leadership, which yet again failed to call for coordinated industrial action and campaigning with other unions. The GMB response to austerity is to wait for a Labour government.

But while this prospect is now a real possibility, after the general election upheaval, it's no thanks to GMB which supported Owen Smith in last year's Labour leadership challenge, despite 2016 congress delegates overwhelmingly backing Corbyn.

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In The Socialist 14 June 2017:


Socialist Party news and analysis

City bosses' 40m bonuses as Number of food banks hits 2,000

Low-paid work till lunch to make rent

Young workers in unions earn 20% more

Corbyn surge beats Trump


General election 2017

May and Tories must go!

Northern Ireland: DUP propping up the Tories

Scotland - SNP loses but Labour could've won more

Wales: Corbyn's left surge refutes right-wing Labour doomsayers

General election: what you thought about it

Corbyn's support increases further during last week of campaign

Rallying in support of Corbyn's policies

Large turnout to hear Jeremy Corbyn


International socialist news and analysis

France - Huge voter abstention belies Macron's 'landslide' election

International news in brief


Socialist Party workplace news

NSSN conference: workers' action to kick out the Tories

GMB conference: angry mood from delegates

LSE victory

Window strikers joined by second plant

Exploited agency workers organise


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

The fight goes on - let's make it a socialist fight to win

Racist EDL humiliated for third time

From Militant to the Socialist Party


 

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