Posts Tagged ‘GMB’

Unite has learned nothing from the Falkirk debacle

03/12/2014, 11:08:36 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last week, we started to see just how much some quarters of the Labour Party do not want Jim Murphy to become their leader in Scotland. It was not so much the carefully-crafted hatchet job from Tom Watson, which followed that of old flat-mate Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite union, from a few weeks earlier.

No, it was the landing on Scottish Unite members’ doormats of ballot packs from their union.

Of course, under the One Member, One Vote system which has been in place for two decades, union leaders no longer allocate millions of their members’ votes; the members decide freely for themselves, under a ballot organised by the union.

Or, at least, that’s the theory.

The reality is that they decide a little less freely than that: some union leaders seem to think freedom, like a number of political leaders before them, is a commodity so valuable that it needs to be rationed.

And so, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reported, the GMB continued to do what it did in the 2010 leadership election for the national party: it put in only the leaflet of its favoured candidate, Neil Findlay, into the voting pack.

But that was nothing compared what Unite got up to: it actually placed a “mock” ballot paper inside the pack alongside the real one, with an X against the box of its favoured candidate. All you had to do was to copy this X onto the real ballot paper in the same place and, hey presto. A more transparent attempt to “help” the voter to vote would be hard to imagine.

It is perfectly legitimate for the leadership to express a preference. What is not acceptable, as standard practice in postal ballots clearly shows, is to express it in the ballot pack.


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London Labour revolt over Euro-list fix grows

15/04/2013, 11:09:28 AM

Perhaps the leadership thought no one would notice? That no one would care about the fixing involved in selecting Labour’s European election candidates?

Well, the evidence is that they were wrong. Very wrong.

The lightning rod for emerging discontent in London is Anne Fairweather. Ahead of the 2009 European elections she was the top choice for Labour members, securing almost 3,500 votes, comfortably ahead of the rest of the field.

As Peter Watt and Jon Worth have noted, this time round, she was rejected by Labour, without even an interview.

In the past week anger has been rising across London with a slew of motions about the London selection being passed at grassroots level.

Anne’s branch in Brixton Hill passed a motion calling on the regional board to explain their decision. Bloomsbury ward in Camden passed a motion condemning the selection process,

This branch expresses its disappointment that Anne Fairweather has not been placed on the long list of candidates for the London Labour European election. As the third-placed candidate on the Labour list in London in 2009 she worked hard to increase Labour’s vote share at a difficult time for the party, and would have been elected as the third London Labour MEP after Claude Moraes and Mary Honeyball had the region of London not had its tally of seats reduced to eight. For 2009 she topped the ballot of London Labour members which decided the order on the list, winning more than 3000 personal votes. Denying members the ability to choose whether or not to vote for her again is undemocratic and this branch calls for this decision to be explained in full and reviewed by the national party.

Moreover, we will need strong and experienced advocates for a pro-EU reform agenda in what will be a very tough campaign next year. More strong campaigners are needed in leading positions if we are to return a Labour government in 2015.

Thornton and Clapham Common branches in Streatham CLP have passed similar motions with branches in Southwark, Islington and Redbridge expected to back motions calling on the regional board to explain their rationale.

In each motion, the central questions are the same: how does someone go from Labour’s leading European candidate to not even meriting an interview? What has changed?

Based on the evidence, it seems that while Anne Fairweather remains very much the same candidate so strongly endorsed by Labour members at the time of the last European election, control of key decision-making posts is now in the hands of the resurgent left.

Her crime seems to have been to work in business and not be one of the chosen candidates of the unions and the left.


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Labour approaches a tipping point

11/07/2012, 03:13:52 PM

by Rob Marchant

“The future is unwritten” said Joe Strummer. He was right.  We really can change the future: really. Because politics is driven by people and events.

That said, many of these people and events are in turn, whether we like it or not, driven by power.

It’s significant that even the word tends to bring to mind thoughts of how power corrupts or how the wielding of power is somehow an undesirable act. But power can be good too. We need it. The just wielding of power is a wholly good and desirable act, whether or not we agree with the political outcome. Democracy would be meaningless without it, after all. Power is there to be used for good, even if that is not always the result as we see it.

Those who have it can choose to wield it, or not. And sometimes it can be about perceived, rather than actual, power, as well. The shifting of the political tectonic plates often happens because the balance changes between one side and another, and it is often these events, rather than the froth of the everyday media, which we should be watching.

So, let’s go beyond, for a moment, the day to day – whether or not Osborne will apologise to Balls (he should), or even whether the coalition is on the rocks (it’s probably not) – and take a little look into the Labour Party’s immediate future. It’s either entirely frivolous, or deadly serious: you choose.

And so we come back to the underlying story which manifested itself in Labour’s affiliated unions wanting to ban Progress. It hasn’t gone away, as many had hoped: the motion to conference has arrived from ASLEF, and it’s not clear that it was an “honourable peace” either, as Mark Ferguson  noted at LabourList on Monday.


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Revealed: the GMB backtracks on Progress

29/06/2012, 02:10:43 PM

by Atul Hatwal

As Labour’s internal battle between the moderates and the left rumbles on, evidence reaches Uncut that some selective re-writing of recent history is under way.

The GMB kicked-off the latest witchunt against Progress at their conference. Paul Kenny, seen as the most pragmatic and savvy of the current generation of leaders, turned up the heat in his speech. The key passage couldn’t have been any clearer,

“On Progress let me say this. I know that at this very moment a resolution is written and will be delivered to the Labour party shortly. It is a rule amendment which will go before this year’s Conference for next year which, effectively, will outlaw Progress as part of the Labour party, and long overdue it is.”

But now, the GMB is backtracking. Talk of “outlawing” Progress and changing the Labour party’s rules has been quietly dropped and is in the process of being airbrushed out of accounts of their conference.

Last week, the union’s national political officer, Gary Doolan, sent a private e-mail to the network of GMB councillors with some very careful wording. The relevant paragraph comes at the end:

“In addition, there has been much debate about GMB’s Motion 154 to Congress, which has been described as “banning Progress from the Labour Party”. Just to clarify the situation I have included the actual Motion 154 for your perusal.”

The operative phrase here is “there has been much debate”.


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Hands off Progress

15/06/2012, 03:31:17 PM

by Jamie Reed

As a GMB sponsored Member of Parliament, I’m proud of the achievements of my trade union. I don’t only have good working relationships with GMB officials at a local and national level – where I watch them undertake incredibly valuable work for their members, day in, day out – but I enjoy strong friendships too, in some cases, stretching back decades.

My grandfather was a GMB trade union official – and without him and his commitment to the trade union movement, the political world would never have held any interest for me. The point is, my association with the GMB trade union is long, deep and personal.

That’s why I cannot understand the decision of the GMB conference to seek to ‘outlaw’ Progress from the Labour Party. Let’s be clear: Progress is one of the most important, active, hard-working parts of our party. In helping to deliver an unprecedented three general election victories, Progress holds an important position in the most successful period of our past and it must play an equally important role now and in our future if we are ever to form another government. Progress is part of our future. Progress is here to stay.


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Tuesday News Review

07/06/2011, 06:48:09 AM

Where have I heard that before?

The Prime Minister’s “five guarantees” on the NHS will prove as worthless as his “cast-iron guarantee” on Europe. He went back on the promise of a referendum and David Cameron’s already broken, by our count, three of his health promises. The PM’s come up with a handful of guarantees because he needs a short-term fix to a problem called Andrew Lansley. We haven’t forgotten his enthusiastic, 100% backing for the Health Secretary’s scheme to turn the NHS into a giant market. Mr Cameron’s five guarantees are as worthless as that discarded referendum pledge. – Daily Mirror

Making a passionate case for reform, the Prime Minister will reassure people that the NHS is safe in his Government’s hands – and he will claim the proposals are gaining support. He will offer to be “personally accountable” for five “guarantees” – that the NHS will remain universal, that “efficient and integrated care” will be improved, not broken up, that the Government will keep waiting times low and funding will increase, not fall. A survey by and YouGov today finds widespread backing from voters, including Labour supporters, for the reforms – but 59 per cent agree that “deep down, Conservatives want to fully privatise the NHS”. – Daily Express

The Prime Minister is fighting to rescue the Coalition’s Health Bill and will use a major speech to try to convince his critics that he wants the best for the NHS. He will point to reports showing that the standard of care in some hospitals is severely lacking, reports which show “elderly patients left unfed and unwashed”. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, dismissed Mr Cameron’s five pledges. He said: “David Cameron is the first Prime Minister in history to be forced to set out five pledges to protect the NHS from his own policies. Yet, he has already broken two of those pledges. The number of people waiting 18 weeks for treatment has gone up and he has not protected the health service budget. – Daily Telegraph

Salmond’s double independence blow

Alex Salmond’s hopes of a smooth transfer of powers to an independentScotland have been dealt a blow after a cabinet minister said a second referendum would be needed on independence. Michael Moore, the Scottish secretary, said there was a “strong likelihood” that if the nationalists won the first referendum, then the British government would have to hold a further plebiscite to allow Scotland the chance to vote on the precise terms of any independence deal agreed by both countries. His remarks deeply irritated Salmond, the first minister, who has repeatedly insisted there is no legal requirement for a second referendum, since the first vote – likely to be in 2015 – would be based on a detailed proposal from the Scottish government. – the Guardian

Unions have held a mini-summit over their fears for the Scottish ship building industry being undermined by the threat of Scottish independence. Representatives of GMB, Unite and Ucatt – the unions that represent thousands of workers on the Clyde and Rosyth – yesterday warned MPs that even the possibility of independence could see contracts awarded to yards in England. The issue is set to be raised today when Defence Secretary Liam Fox answers questions from the Scottish affairs select committee. Under EU rules, defence contracts do not have to go out to open tender, which means governments usually award them to home yards. – the Scotsman

The GMB flexes its muscles

The Business Secretary was heckled, booed and jeered by angry delegates at the GMB conference in Brighton. One unfurled a banner saying: “Vince Cable not welcome – stop attacking workers’ rights.” The LibDem Cabinet minister’s comments were branded inflammatory. And one union boss warned that the grass-roots reaction to his threats would be: “Bring it on.” Paul Kenny, general secretary of the 700,000-member GMB, accused him of showing “a remarkable lack of understanding” about the impact of the cuts on ordinary people. He described Dr Cable’s remarks about strike laws as “ill-judged” – and claimed his speech may even have increased the chance of widespread disruption. He said: “The GMB and other unions are still in negotiation. My view is that his speech has been very unhelpful. And I think people’s reaction on the ground is going to be, ‘if you’re going to threaten us, bring it on’.” – Daily Mirror

Vince Cable was licking his wounds last night after a miscalculated speech ended in union activists subjecting him to a torrent of heckles and catcalls. The Business Secretary intended to deliver a friendly warning to the GMB conference that a summer of industrial militancy could play into the hands of right-wing Tories agitating for fresh anti-strike legislation. Instead, to the dismay of senior Liberal Democrats, he was cast in the role of union-bashing hard man telling them to act responsibly or rue the consequences. Union leaders accused him of threatening human rights and protested that his intervention had soured the atmosphere ahead of talks with ministers over resolving a dispute over cuts to public-sector pensions. It was the fourth time in a fortnight that ill-considered words by the Business Secretary have angered colleagues. – the Independent

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Friday News Review

16/07/2010, 07:29:30 AM

Union backing declared

The GMB Union has backed Ed Milliband for the Labour leadership

Several unions moved to give their backing to candidates for the Labour leadership yesterday as the campaign enters a potentially critical phase.The GMB became the first of the three big Labour-affiliated unions to nominate its choice, urging its 700,000 members to back Ed Miliband, the former climate change secretary. It will ballot all members on the candidates. – The Guardian

Mr Miliband also received support from construction union Ucatt yesterday. The Communication Workers Union swung behind Ed Balls and train drivers’ union Aslef backed Diane Abbott.Voting is split three ways: MPs and MEPs, trade unions and other affiliated organisations and thirdly grassroots activists. The two biggest unions – Unite and Unison – have yet to declare. – The Mirror


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