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Unions expect gains from Labour race

14 May 2007, 13:59

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FT.COM

The biggest trade unions are to use Labour’s leadership contest to try to extract fresh commitments to new workers’ rights, a brake on private sector involvement in the National Health Service and a publicly owned Royal Mail.

Leaders of Unite, Unison, the GMB and the Communication Workers Union, the four largest unions affiliated to Labour, are expected to meet this week, possibly on Monday, for what one insider said would be private talks about the contest.

The unions are poised to raise their profile, using forthcoming conferences to host leadership hustings. Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, and Billy Hayes, CWU leader, are understood to believe the election process is an opportunity to make progress towards a successor deal to the so-called Warwick agreement, a set of principles that was thrashed out with the backing of the prime minister and Gordon Brown before the last election.

That deal between ministers and the unions enshrined a list of policies on employment rights, manufacturing and public services that moulded the party’s general election manifesto. Some of them, in particular a promise to keep the Royal Mail in public hands, have been controversial with employers.

Although senior union figures would prefer to see a contest for leader, which would give them a stronger voice, they believe a leftwing challenge is unlikely and are resigned to Mr Brown being selected unopposed.

Instead, they are concentrating their firepower on the race to replace John Prescott as deputy leader.

Despite Labour’s one-member-one-vote system, the big unions will wield enormous clout, their combined membership accounting for almost a third of Labour’s electoral college. Labour’s membership has dwindled in recent years, making it more dependent on the unions.

All, apart from the GMB, are expected to make supporting nominations that may influence the voting of more than 1m union members.

The FT has been told that Unite, formed by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union, has been putting pressure on MPs to back the campaign by Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and a former No 10 adviser, to become deputy leader. It has ploughed tens of thousands of pounds into his campaign. An Amicus official has lobbied MPs in parliament to support Mr Simpson’s preferred contender.

The union has seconded one of its press officers to Mr Cruddas’s team and has given him a long interview slot in a magazine sent to all of its members.

The aim, according to union insiders, is to get a left-leaning MP into the cabinet to articulate the union agenda in a way that was not possible under Mr Blair. Mr Simpson has complained that ministers have been slow to implement the Warwick deal and has called for stronger employment protection for workers.

If Mr Cruddas were successful, his presence in the cabinet could make life difficult for Mr Brown. The MP has said the deputy leader should not have a ministerial portfolio and act as a “transmission beltâ€

14 May 2007, 21:09

It's a shame that John Mcdonnell won't get the number of Labour MPs needed to force an election , or so it
seems. I suppose we'll have to make do with Jon Cruddas as deputy PM , which is more than we trade unionists have had up to
now under New Labour. :roll:

18 May 2007, 03:49

Fully agree with you about JM a proper contest with a proper debate would have been brilliant not just for the labour party but for the country! To have JM's 21st century socalism receive all the publicity that would have been created by a contest would have been good.

You may or may not be aware Jon Cruddas nominated GB rather than JM which i suspected would happen as when asked about the next leader JC definetly gave off GB vibes. JC belives if elected GB will listen and understand and act to the points he raises.

Peter Hain would be a good deputy to have as he is the only friend we have in goverment at the moment.

Big Daz.

18 May 2007, 15:57

Having been turned off domestic politics, I wasn't aware of Jon's nomination of Gordon Brown.
I'm going to take an active interest in what goes on in the Labour Party from now on. If , as you say , Peter Hain is our only
friend in government, I'll back him to the hilt. :Applause

Really shows though, don't it mate , trying to find a Socialist in the parliamentary Labour Party is harder than trying to find
a RM slime (CEO) with an IQ above ten. :sad:

Thanks for that little bit of info regarding Jon Cruddas, Daz. :Applause

18 May 2007, 16:46

Peter Hain is a god like figure, for only a God would have the courage to stand up at CWU events and declare himself a SOCALIST when he is the cabinet of TB! I was there and saw/heard with my own eyes and ears. He has also declared himself against Privatisation by the front door and most crucially by the back door as well at CWU events in front of rank and file reps/mbrs

Geraldine Smith a former CWU rep in post office counters is now a back bench labour MP and is part of the CWU group of MP'S who look after our interests in parliment. Kate Hoey is the group as well. I wont prattle any more unless you want me too in case you know it all already.

18 May 2007, 17:25

No mate , that's great info for someone like me who's turned their back on Britain's inneffectual
politics. That there are still some good people in the Labour Party is good to hear , the pity is that there isn't nearly enough. :sad:

Do you know who the CWU will throw their weight behind during the campaign for DPM , Daz ?

18 May 2007, 17:53

Peter Hain or Jon Cruddas would be my guess. Did you know that PH was the head of research once upon a time in the old UCW. It would appear he has remained on extremely good terms with the UCW/CWU.

18 May 2007, 18:08

Nah mate, I never knew that about Peter , sounds like a good bloke to have as DPM , I hope our
union supports him as much as he appears to support us.

Thanks a million for this info Daz , :Applause after just a few posts from you, I now know who we can trust/ turn to in the parliamentary
Labour Party , whereas before, I thought we as a trade union were swimming against the tide. :Very Happy

Thanks again, Daz. :Applause :Applause :Applause

18 May 2007, 20:04

TULO

Heard of them? They are the linking body between the labour party and the 15 affilated trade unions.

They have a page on their website for the leadership eelctions with the deputy leadrship canidates setting out why CWU and trade union members should vote for them http://www.unionstogether.org.uk/leadership07/

18 May 2007, 20:14

Not fully read through the link yet myself but Peter Hain i kinow you will like what he has to say! Apparently his time with us goes back to the old UPW.

18 May 2007, 20:32

extract from peter hain's bit on the link

"Furthermore, I have not let up in my insistence that Royal Mail must remain in public hands and have called for an immediate Government review on the impact of unfair competition on Royal Mail"

Cheers Daz !

18 May 2007, 20:34

That's brilliant mate ! :Applause :Applause :Applause I can't say I've ever heard of TULO , until now !!!
A million thanks for going to the trouble of posting the link , I'm off to have a butchers at the site now.

Thanks again Daz ! :Applause :Applause :Applause

You were right, mate.

18 May 2007, 22:24

Of them all , I'm impressed most by what Peter Hain says. I know it's early days yet, but I think
I know against whose name my x will be going.

He also states, and I quote "I'm a team player, but independently-minded who will stand up for Socialist values."

That's my boy , what with his defence of our industry, his avowed commitment to Socialism , he's got to be a firm
favourite with trade unionists.

Thanks again, Daz. :Applause :Applause :Applause

19 May 2007, 04:38

In otherwords he is not old labour not new labour but REAL labour !

Well said,

19 May 2007, 09:06

Couldn't have put it better myself, Daz. :Applause

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