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Young Labour: “any weakening of the union link should be opposed”

Save the Labour-Union LinkThe national committee of the Labour Party’s young wing, Young Labour, vowed on Wednesday night “to defend the right of trade union members through their affiliated trade union to take part in the selection of candidates at every level of the party”.

Young Labour joins scores of grassroots activists and party units in expressing concern over recent weeks at the potential for the historic relationship between Labour and the trade unions to be fundamentally weakened in the wake of the Falkirk selection crisis. The motion passed at Wednesday night’s national committee meeting is an amended version of one passed at the youth wing’s biggest regional group – London Young Labour – last month.

There will now be both a London-specific and a national gathering of Young Labour members before the end of the calendar year, “to politically educate ourselves about the ideas of working-class representation and the Labour Party and the unions’ role in this.”

Young Labour is also set to “open dialogue” with affiliated trade unions to discuss positive ways forward to strengthen the link between party and affiliates – specifically “to win support at Labour Party conferences for democratic rule changes and for pro-working-class policies on issues such as cuts, the living wage, jobs, and trade union rights”. Young Labour’s delegation carries a powerful vote in excess of 20,000 in the affiliates section of annual conference (greater, for instance, than several smaller trade unions), so its voting strength could be crucial in securing adequate support for trade union-backed motions in Brighton.

The motion passed on Wednesday night additionally mandates NEC youth rep Bex Bailey to raise such unequivocal opposition to undermining the trade union link at Labour’s executive meetings. She reported to the national committee that her contribution to NEC discussions on the issue of the “Collins Review” had so far concentrated on the potential for young members to be disenfranchised in party selections via open primaries. Having secured a commitment from Ed Miliband that members too young to appear on the electoral register will not lose out on votes in selections, she will now raise the committee’s sentiments as expressed in the motion passed.

The full motion, in its final form, is below:

Young Labour notes:

1. The Labour Party was founded by the trade unions, the Fabians and the Co-operative movement because the working class majority in society had no political voice representing their interests.

2. The Labour Party is still based on the affiliation of nearly three million working-class people through their trade unions.

Young Labour believes:

1. Any weakening of the trade union link and the ability of trade unions and their members to participate in the Labour Party should be opposed.

2. As the mass organisations of working-class people, affiliated trade unions are entitled to use the democratic structures of the Labour Party in order to promote their policies and members who wish to seek selection as elected representatives of the Labour Party.

Young Labour resolves:

1. To defend the right of trade union members through their affiliated trade union to take part in the selection of candidates at every level of the party.

2. To politically educate ourselves about the ideas of working-class representation and the Labour Party and the unions’ role in this, and to call a Young Labour meeting on this topic before the end of the current calendar year, 2013.

3. To encourage more young trade unionists to become involved in the work of Young Labour.

4. To open dialogue with affiliated trade unions to win support at Labour Party conferences for democratic rule changes and for pro-working-class policies on issues such as cuts, the living wage, jobs, and trade union rights.

5. To mandate NEC Youth Representative Bex Bailey to raise the issues outlined in this motion at the next NEC.

7. To circulate the text of this motion to all Secretaries of Young Labour groups and CLP youth officers.

One Comment

  1. Rob the cripple says:

    4. To open dialogue with affiliated trade unions to win support at Labour Party conferences for democratic rule changes and for pro-working-class policies on issues such as cuts, the living wage, jobs, and trade union rights.

    Fine no problem good idea, but labour is not really a left leaning party these days is it?, the left have very little sway within the Labour party which is again slowly moving to the Right.

    The only way your going to sort this out and we all know today if Labour could get enough backing financially the Unions would be out, is to have a vote, both sides the Unions to vote on whether the members wish to be associated with the Labour party and the Labour party if they want the Unions involved.

    I can tell you now it would be a close vote on both sides.

    If the vote is they stay, then both parties have to get around the table and make a legally binding document of what Labour expects from the Unions and what powers the Union have.

    This would then be discussed and voted on again by bother parties.

    This would end this never ending battle between the groups of who is or what the labour party actually is.

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