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From The Socialist newspaper, 6 July 2001

TGWU conference: Free The Funds

BILL MORRIS, the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) general secretary has been quoted in the press as saying that the union will financially support the Liberal Democrats. He quickly qualified this, saying they could collaborate with the Liberals in single-issue campaigns but the Labour Party is "the only show in town."

Teresa MacKay, TGWU agricultural trade group, personal capacity

UNISON has also, it seems, donated money to a Liberal Party research project through the General Political Fund. UNISON's Affiliated Political Fund on the other hand is solely devoted to giving money to the Labour Party and Labour Party candidates standing in elections.

What is needed is for the unions to change their rule books so that they can financially support candidates and political parties that represent the interests of the members, not the interests of big business.

Recent union conferences have discussed this issue. UNISON voted to review its links with New Labour and the Communication Workers' Union and the Fire Brigades Union have passed similar motions.

Bill Morris's threat about the Liberals is obviously as a result of his recent dinner with Tony Blair along with the other trade union leaders. But the Liberal Democrats, who are currently perceived as being to the left of Labour, are not the answer. Whatever they pretend, they are just another capitalist party and their councils, like New Labour's, have attacked public-sector union members' pay and conditions.

This is why at the TGWU conference, motion 282 and the amendment on the funding of the Labour Party, should be supported.

The motion asks: "The GEC (General Executive Council) to look at alternative ways of using the Political Fund, other than large donations being made to the Labour Party election fund, in the fight to better the conditions of the union's membership."

The amendment suggests: "One way of doing this would be for the union to donate money to parliamentary candidates prepared to support union policies... and certainly not donated direct to regional Labour Parties for the general election, resulting in many good trade union candidates receiving no help for the constituency election fund."

The TGWU can no longer give a blank cheque to New Labour whilst it continues to attack our members' jobs, wages and conditions. Blair has turned New Labour into another capitalist party and shown he is more interested in banquets with big business than beer and sandwiches with trades unionists.

Free the funds to back candidates and parties whose policies support trade union members' interests.

Loosen the shackles of the Labour Party and its pro-market policies and begin the serious battle of building a mass workers' party based on the trade unions.

Free The Funds

THE TRADE unions donate millions to the Labour Party every year but all we get in return is privatisation and cuts in living standards and working conditions.

Free the Funds is a cross-union campaign to free the political funds and campaign for a new party which would represent the interests of working-class people.

Unions should be able to support election candidates and parties who support union policy and campaign to defend workers' interests.

The founding sponsors are the following trade union national committee members (all in a personal capacity): Roger Bannister, Jean Thorpe, Raph Parkinson (UNISON), Bernard Roome, Gary Jones (CWU), Robbie Segal (USDAW), Marion Lloyd (PCS), Andrew Price (NATFHE), Linda Taaffe and Nina Franklin (NUT).

To contact Free the Funds for a speaker or to add your name to the sponsor list, write to: PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD, specifying your trade union.


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In The Socialist 6 July 2001:

Strike Back At School Sell-Offs

TGWU conference: Free The Funds

Icy Blasts Of Recession

Wales: Tuition Fees Damned - Now Abolish Them!

Capitalism's Bitter Coffee

Put All The Warmongers On Trial

Northern Ireland: New Sectarian Dangers - Workers' Response Needed

Hackney Bin Workers Score Quick Victory


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