Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Unions should support thier members not the Labour Party

Unions should support thier members not the Labour Party  Many years ago whilst working in a Textile factory, I was a shop Steward for a small union called the Amalgamated Union of Textile Workers and Kindred Trades.

I was a Plaid member and activist at the time and I remember the Branch Secretary presenting me with a Labour Party diary, an embarrassing moment for both of us.

The secretary Jack Wright brother Ken, had been a Labour Party councillor and chairman of Caerphilly council where he had been granted leave of absence by the company. until he had been beaten by Plaid in one of its great surges in 1972. So this did not endear him to me.

He was also national President Of the (AUTWKT) . However bizarrely he was also Personnel Officer for the company. This meant the leader of our Union was responsible for hiring and firing the workforce.
All this and the fact that I was the only person singularly made redundant by the company never affected my support for Trade Unions.

I even understood and accepted the traditional links Unions had with the Labour Party. But I believe now is the time for this association to end.

But as Miserable Old Fart recently posted  it is frustrating of Union members who supported another Party only to see the Union backing Labour.

Even non-aligned members must be angered in seeing their Union refraining from criticising the New Labour government who did little to improve the lot of working people as they pandered to the City and the Bankers who eventually have led as to the current state where a Libcon coalition cuts will affect the poorest  often Union members greater than most.

Passing the Unison offices in Pontypridd in the last election where the posters backing Labour, who had done nothing to support Trade Unions in the 13 years of power and did little to improve the lot of the workers Unison represented filled me with anger and despair.

The Unions themselves no longer are led by people who have come up the ranks but often entered the organisation straight from university never actually having worked in the same manner as their members, and it often seems to me that often  it is little more than a career move where there is little understanding of the experience of ordinary members.

And the days when a Trade Unionist becomes an Labour MP after starting on the shop floor seem well gone.

Now of course they seem to  have found a new militancy which has been largely absent over the last 13 years.

I applaud this, but Unions should stand up to Government whatever the make up and for that reason  I believe that Unions should.
  1. Break their formal ties with the Labour Party
  2. Sponsor MPs and Candidates regardless of Political party but whether He or She support the principals and campaigns of that Union.
  3. Seek to devolve power to regions and branches and seek to encourage ordinary members to take a more active roll in the Unions development as NUPE did in the 1980’s.
Can any Trade Union leader really believe that either Milliband Brother will support Unions with little more than platitudes? And yet the endorse them.

Unions  are not there to serve the Labour Party but its members. It is time they began to do so


1 comment:

  1. Good point Glyn.

    I won't be supporting strikes by the unions 'cos I'm not prepared to be a foot soldier for the Labour Party. Labour messed up the economy it's their problem.

    The unions are Labour's proxy. I won't be supporting them this time.