Unite and the Labour Party

Labour peer Lord Adonis shamefully stated earlier in the week that BA cabin crew striking was “completely unjustified” – Adonis is more than just ‘badly informed’, as some at the top of UNITE claimed. He is an unelected millionaire peer whose interests are diametrically opposed to people earning a wage. It really tells you something that he feels so at home in the Labour Party!

Gordon Brown followed this up with the claim that the strike was “deplorable”! This from creatures whose party is bankrolled by the union, UNITE, to the tune of £11million over the last four years!

The Tories attempt to portray the Labour Party as under the unions thumb, with UNITE pulling the strings; will have been dismissed as laughable by millions of ordinary trade unionists. Many wonder why good money after bad still keeps flowing into the coffers of a party more interested in protecting bankers’ bonuses than the jobs, wages and conditions of the people that pay their bills.

As Seamus Milne pointed out in the Guardian “many trade unionists are sceptical about whether they should continue to affiliate to and fund a party that privatises their jobs, condemns them when they go on strike and blocks employment rights in Europe”.

New Labour essentially siding with Walsh is telling – but it should come as no surprise from a government who over the last thirteen years have sided with the employer in every major industrial dispute; a government who have kept and extended Thatcher’s anti-trade union laws, which were used to block cabin crew strikes after the first ballot; a government who dare to warn trade unionists not to ‘rock the boat’ while they do all they can to undermine us.

Some BASSA members are already looking into how they can withhold the Labour Party contribution from their union subs. A clear message should be put out from UNITEs leadership to the Labour Party – ‘Use it or lose it! If you don’t come out and back us unequivocally – as workers across Britain and trade unions across the globe are – then the cheques are going to stop coming! We are no longer willing to fund a party that ceased to represent us years ago’.

This is part of a wider debate that is taking place across the trade union movement; CWU members who fought to defend jobs, conditions and trade union rights last year; UNISON members who face hundreds of thousands of job cuts in a ‘bonfire of services’; and many more, are all asking the question, why are still tied to New Labour?

On the Socialist Party’s part, we have consistently called for the link with New Labour to be broken – it is an out-and-out party of big business now. But working people do need a political voice; our money would be better spent backing trade union candidates that stand in our interest, as a step towards the development of a new mass party that can genuinely represent us. We feel that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an important step in this direction and would urge BA workers sickened by how New Labour have treat them to throw their support behind this important electoral challenge.

For more information on TUSC visit the website here. TUSC will be holding it’s national launch rally on Thursday 25th March at the Friends Meeting House in Euston at 7:30.

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