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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 913, 24 August 2016: Kick out the Blairites

Search site for keywords: Jeremy Corbyn - Union - GMB - Usdaw - Unison - Labour - Trade union - Trade unions - Unite - UCATT - TUC - JCB - BFAWU


Corbyn union nominations round-up and view from the workplace

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell marching with teachers and junior doctors, 2016, photo Garry Knight (Creative Commons)

Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell marching with teachers and junior doctors, 2016, photo Garry Knight (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

In the last fortnight, more trade unions have announced who they are backing in the Labour leadership contest. General union Unite and public sector union Unison have maintained their support for Jeremy Corbyn joining the bakers' union BFAWU, builders' union UCATT, the Communication Workers' Union and three others. While Community union has been joined by the general union the GMB, shop workers' union Usdaw and the Musicians' Union in endorsing Owen Smith in a joint letter to the Daily Mirror. Below are comments from members of some of the unions in response:


Jeremy Corbyn at 2016 Unison conference photo Paul Mattsson

Jeremy Corbyn at 2016 Unison conference photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Many Unison members will be pleased that our union has officially backed Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. Jeremy is the only candidate, as was the case with the leadership election in 2015, who is fully supportive of the trade union movement and who is in line with the union's anti-austerity policies.

The immense support and enthusiasm that he receives from activists was witnessed at our annual conference in Brighton in June. When Jeremy spoke he got a huge standing ovation and was mobbed by supporters when he finished speaking - the fact that we have a Labour leader who is unashamedly pro-trade union is a big step forward!

However make no bones about it, there are plenty in our union who would have liked to have 'done a GMB' and supported Owen Smith. General secretary Dave Prentis made a statement on 12 August which talks of Labour becoming the 'nasty party' with many veiled attacks on the Corbyn campaign.

Prentis fears a Corbyn-type movement in Unison that could transform our union from top to bottom. Unison members would do well to remember that Prentis and his bureaucracy spent hundreds of thousands of pounds witch-hunting Socialist Party members in Unison in an unsuccessful attempt to 'get the Trots' - sound familiar to the Labour Party today?

The key issues for Unison members are first of all ensuring a Corbyn victory but then making sure we properly finish the job - no more compromise with right-wing Labour councillors cutting our jobs or Labour MPs who are happy to take our union donations but don't support union policies.

Importantly we need to discuss how exactly we can get the fairer society that Corbyn supports and many Unison members want to see - Socialist Party supporters in Unison believe that means breaking with the failed system of capitalism and introducing widespread public ownership of the banks and major industry.

Then we can truly put people before profit!

Unison member in the West Midlands


GMB flags at the TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Claire Job

GMB flags at the TUC demo in Manchester: 50,000 march against Tories demanding action on NHS, photo Claire Job   (Click to enlarge)

I was a delegate to the recent GMB conference in June. At the conference Jeremy Corbyn spoke and was given a rousing response by delegates.

In his speech at the same conference General Secretary Tim Roache gave his full support for Jeremy. He said that Jeremy was the democratically elected leader of the party and that the right wing in the party should support him and not attack him.

A recent poll of GMB members was conducted by email asking who was best to lead the party, this saw just 40,000 in a union of over 600,000 respond - with a majority in favour of Owen Smith. I didn't even get to vote despite receiving an email saying I would be able to.

This vote was conducted with no debate whatsoever, allowing the anti-Corbyn media to have free reign.

The letter signed by Tim to the Mirror now supporting Owen Smith says we need to be radical but we also need to be credible. Are Jeremy's policies of building 500,000 houses, calling for an end to zero-hour contracts, for public ownership of the railways and an end to privatisation in the health service not credible then?

Support for Owen Smith will not serve the interests of GMB or any other union members.

GMB rep at JCB


Usdaw members at the Britain Needs A Pay Rise demo, photo Socialist Party

Usdaw members at the Britain Needs A Pay Rise demo, photo Socialist Party   (Click to enlarge)

The fact that the leadership of the shop workers' union Usdaw, whose members are among the most low-paid in Britain, are supporting a candidate who calls for a minimum wage less than the union is committed to is bad enough.

The TUC and Usdaw are committed to campaigning for a 10 an hour minimum wage, the same as Jeremy Corbyn but Owen Smith only calls for a minimum wage of 8.25!

But that it was done with no consultation at all with the membership is even worse. A meeting of the leadership didn't even take place; the decision was reached by a phone ballot of the Usdaw executive council. Even so there are still a number of Corbyn supporters on the executive council, not to mention the majority of Usdaw's 440,000 membership. Corbyn received a thunderous reception at Usdaw's conference in April and has the overwhelming support of reps.

Over the past few years, Usdaw's conference has passed policies that are currently being put forward by Corbyn - a 10 an hour minimum wage, repeal of the anti-union laws, renationalisation of the railways and a mass council house building programme to name but a few.

Usdaw members have initiated an Usdaw4Corbyn campaign and will be campaigning for his victory, as well as campaigning for a fighting, democratic leadership of the union that reflects the views of its membership.

Scott Jones, Chair, Usdaw East London retail branch C026 (personal capacity)

Musicians' Union

I do not agree that the decision to back Owen Smith is necessarily for the good of musicians. Jeremy Corbyn's stance on the arts to me is very clear with instrumental lessons for all children, outreach art programmes etc. He seems to me more and more the only person that isn't constantly conflicted by balancing business interests with those of the people.

Ross Power, composer and Musicians' Union member

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