Thursday, March 23, 2006

Unison suspends support for New Labour

Local government superunion Unison has finally twigged that there is a contradiction between pushing for the re-election of Labour councils at the same time as leading strike action against them. Here's a statement from Keith Sonnet of Unison Labour Link, the body which handles Unison's relations with New Labour:

'In the circumstances of the union taking national industrial action against the deputy prime minister, John Prescott, named as regulator and decision maker regarding the LGPS [Local Government Pension Scheme - DO], it is felt that it is not appropriate or politically sensible to be organising, on one hand, for industrial action by the union while sending out letters and leaflets to many of the same members asking them to vote Labour.

'The decision has been taken to suspend our election campaigning work for Labour in the May elections while the industrial action is going on.

'Labour Link will not be giving any further donations or support to the campaign until we reach a solution to the present LGPS issue.'

Almost insurrectionary stuff, this. This isn't stroppy old RMT or the FBU we are talking about here. Politically speaking, the Unison leadership are mainstream Labour loyalists, or at best soft left if you're stretching the point. They must be mighty riled to take a step like this. We can only assume the rank and file disaffection is palpable.

UPDATE: A Unison activist on the UK Left Network list adds:

'We had taken a decison regionally (London) not to support them with canvassing etc, apart from in Barking and Dagenham so as to stop the BNP.

'Not sure what the national position is for campaigning individually as Unison and Labour Party members, but there has been a call for Unison or the Labour Representation Commitee to ask candidates to sign their support for our strike or even better to join us on the picket lines, and then we would support them.'

UPDATE II: The Morning Star are keen on this one. I gather a full-page spread on the story is planned for the Saturday issue.


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