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25 June 2014

GMB members question Labour link

Kim Hendry, GMB London region delegate (personal capacity)

You can tell the general election is less than a year away when Ed Miliband, Rachel Reeves and three other senior Labour politicians descend on GMB congress to whip up the Labour vote.

But an earlier debate revealed the real feelings of GMB activists with heavy applause and whistles greeting a motion to stop all Labour Party funding (excluding party affiliation fees) "until the manifesto reflects GMB policies". This motion was lost after opposition by the central executive committee.

Time and again delegates criticised Labour policies, but this anger and frustration lacked direction and focus because the union leadership has no clear anti-cuts strategy but to campaign for a Labour victory next year.

General secretary Paul Kenny failed to mention the 10 July national coordinated strike action.

Apart from when I moved a motion on fighting austerity and building for a general strike, the only other reference I heard to 10 July was a question put to Miliband who failed to clearly support the strike.

Kenny reported progress on signing a recognition agreement with ASDA which will ultimately cover some 200,000 workers. He also stressed that 'lay members lead the union' and that the union needs to move away from full-time officers, employed by the GMB, running branches!

GMB members are at the sharp end of many of the worst austerity cuts and this was reflected in many motions, including on zero-hours contracts, benefit cuts, work capability assessment and bedroom tax.