A couple of days ago, the SKWAWKBOX revealed the ongoing efforts by Labour’s right-wing ‘party within a party’ Progress to infiltrate Unison, a hitherto pro-Corbyn union – and the sudden u-turn of the union’s General Secretary, who in 2012 wanted Progress to be ‘proscribed’ (banned from the Labour party) and has recently been appointing Progress members and supporters to key positions within Unison.
This move was considered dangerous by senior figures in Unison and the Labour party. Here’s why.
As the Financial Times (FT) revealed today, anti-Corbyn unions Community (ironically a subsidiary of pro-Corbyn Unite) and USDAW, along with the Co-operative Party that has 26 MPs who sit jointly as ‘Labour and Co-operative’, are organising a drive to create ‘branches’ in each constituency in an effort to block the deselection of MPs who have done little but destabilise and undermine the Labour party since Corbyn’s election in 2015.
Here’s how the FT summarises the mechanism they’re hoping to exploit:
We’ve already seen that the Labour right is prepared to exploit/ignore every rule, and resort to any anti-democratic measure, in order to re-seize control of the party. Clearly they have no compunction about exploiting an obscure rule to allow a single union member to block the democratic choice of many hundreds of CLP (constituency Labour party) members.
But what they have at the moment is not enough. With the larger, better-resourced unions such as Unite and highly-motivated unions like the FBU (Fire Brigades Union) solidly pro-Corbyn, the likelihood – as the FT article acknowledges – is that those unions will also mobilise branches in order to counter the votes of USDAW/Community/Co-op branches.
Hence the importance of Unison, the country’s second-largest union (after Unite). Unison’s 1.3 million members and extensive resources and structures might be enough to give the saboteurs a fighting chance of blocking the deselection of at least some MPs whose members would much prefer to see replaced by better, genuinely progressive candidates.
Similar moves may well be underfoot in other unions and the SKWAWKBOX will publish information on any as it becomes available.
If you’re a Unison member, it’s essential that you get informed, get angry and act to prevent this debilitating infiltration.
If you’re a member of another Labour-affiliated union (a list is shown below), find out whether your union already has a branch affiliated to your CLP and get involved, so you can participate in and influence any selection votes – get your workmates and union colleagues involved, too.
And if your union does not have a local branch, find out what you need to do to start one.
Labour’s members and the country need Labour to be a genuine alternative and a real Labour party. They’re depending on you and me to make sure it remains one.
ASLEF – Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers (railways – drivers, operational supervisors and staff)
BECTU – Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union – broadcasting, film, video, theatre, cinema and related sectors
BFAWU – Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union – food industry
COMMUNITY – industries in and around steel, metal and textile communities
CWU – Communication Workers Union – post and telecommunications
FBU – Fire Brigades Union – firefighters and other workers within fire and rescue services
GMB – for general workers in public and private sectors
MU – Musicians Union – performers, writers and teachers in the music industry
NUM – National Union of Mineworkers
TSSA – Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association – railways, London Underground, travel, haulage, shipping
UCATT – Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians – construction and building workers
UNISON – the public service union for all those providing services to the public whether employed in the public, private or voluntary sectors
Unite – for general workers in the public and private sectors
USDAW – Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers – retail, distributive and related industries