Union funding cut a rush job, claim Bolton MPs
BOLTON’S MPs say a leading trade union’s decision to slash donations to the Labour Party was “rushed”.
GMB, which is one of Labour’s main funders, slashed donations to the party by £1.1 million.
The GMB will cut the affiliation fees to Labour from £1.2 million to £150,000 after rows over party reforms.
This change is estimated to cost Labour at least £9 million and will come into force at the start of next year. There will also be further cuts in Labour Party campaigns, according to the GMB.
The union’s decision comes after Ed Miliband said he wanted individual union members to opt to support the party, rather than be automatically affiliated.
GMB currently affiliates 420,000 of its members to Labour at a cost of £3 per member — this will be cut to 50,000 from January. Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi says the cuts will be “detrimental” to relations between the trade unions and the Labour Party.
She added: “I am a member of a trade union and I greatly value the work that unions do in providing representation for working people.
“At a time when multinational corporations and the financial sector hold huge sway in the political system the voices of ordinary people need to be heard and trade unions are a key element in making that happen.”
Julie Hilling, MP for Bolton West, argued the GMB’s decision was “premature”. She said: “I think it’s a shame that the GMB hasn’t waited for the special conference, which was to be held next year.
“The Trade Union Congress is doing an excellent job and I very much hope they will give its members the chance to decide for themselves.
“It doesn’t seem to be right — they haven’t asked how many members want to be affiliated with the Labour Party.
“Ed Miliband is absolutely right that each individual has the right to choose affiliation.”
Bolton’s Trade Union Congress said trade unions were the “voice of working people and their families.” Martin McMulkin, Secretary of Bolton Trade Union Congress, added: “People and their families and want to see that they are getting value for money.
“We need clear policies to resist cuts, defend jobs and protect public services.”
The GMB released a statement following the Central Executive Council meeting.
It said: “GMB CEC expressed considerable regret about the apparent lack of understanding that the proposal mooted by Ed Miliband will have on the collective nature of trade union engagement with the Labour Party.”
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