Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/212/8607
Trade Unions Tell Labour...
No union cash for Labour's job cutters
SOCIALIST PARTY member Glenn Kelly successfully moved a resolution at UNISON's national conference last week, committing the union to a review of its political links with New Labour. This represents an important development in the fight against privatisation as Glenn explains:
"THE CONFERENCE agreed that the union is not using its political fund properly. That we are handing over money to a party intent on attacking our jobs, wages and conditions, as well as privatising services. The union is feeding the hand that bites us.
It's criminal to think that in places like Glasgow, Labour councillors are flogging off council housing but no UNISON money can be used to support Scottish Socialists who oppose this privatisation.
In Coventry, where workers' conditions have been attacked under the 'single status' deal, only Socialist Party councillors like Dave Nellist are speaking up on behalf of workers; yet the union branch can't support him.
I argued that a rule change would mean not a single penny going to MPs or councillors who vote to attack our jobs and conditions or vote to privatise our services.
Some delegates argued against the resolution by saying we should use our influence within New Labour. I replied that we've had four years of Labour government and just look at what an 'influence within' has meant:
Four years on there are more members earning less than £5 an hour than when Labour took power. Four years on we have PFI privatisation, expanding faster than it ever did under the Tories. Four years on we have Labour councils like Hackney issuing sacking notices to all its workers who refused to take pay cuts. That's what 'influence within' has got us!
Even some Labour Party members who spoke in the debate argued, despairingly, that Labour has 12 months to change or else. Labour's response has been to threaten to disaffiliate any union supporting non-Labour candidates!
This victory has just not happened today, it's has been the culmination of years of work by Socialist Party members inside the union and the union Left and, recently, the 'Free the Funds' campaign.
It's not an accident that it was also a Socialist Party member who successfully moved a similar resolution at the firefighters' conference, a Socialist Party member who moved one at the communications workers' conference and now a Socialist Party member at UNISON conference.
Through the union's United Left, the branches and the regions, members will be organising conferences to discuss model rule changes. We have twelve months to campaign and ensure that the union's executive opens up our political funds."
In The Socialist 29 June 2001: