This week, we’ve been saying we ♥ unions and ♥ the labour movement.
We’ve heard from Tim Roache about the difference that union reps make up and down the country and from Angela Rayner MP about the threat our movement faces from the Trade Union Bill. Jeremy Corbyn has told us why he is so proud of Labour’s links with the unions. And unionstogether’s vice-chairs, Maria Exall and Mick Whelan, have written on why it is so important that working people have a political voice and why we must fight to protect that voice now it is under attack.
From their inception, unions have sought to make work and life better for their members. Much of that work is done on the ground, representing their members and fighting for a better deal, workplace by workplace. But representing members can only do so much – that’s why unions have always been political – because we know that sometimes we have to change the law of the land to win a better deal for working people. That’s why we’ve also been celebrating some of the achievements of our movement, from the foundation of the NHS, to the Equal Pay Act, to the minimum wage.
But while we’ve been ♥ing unions, the Trade Union Bill has continued its progress through the House of Lords. Hidden in the Bill is a clause that is deliberately designed to cut off trade unions’ financial support for the Labour Party - while doing nothing to limit the hedge funds and millionaires that support the Tories. This will create an overwhelming funding imbalance in our political system overnight.
On Thursday, I gave evidence to the Special Select Committee looking at these clauses of the Bill. I told them about the dramatic impact I believe the Bill will have on the money available to unions for political campaigning, and the funding of the Labour Party. I argued that that the measures in the Bill will mean the Labour Party loses up to £8million a year – while the Conservative Party (already much more comfortably off) remains unaffected. This imbalance breaks the decades old consensus that the Party of Government shouldn’t use its power to disadvantage its political opponent.
The Tories want to be in power for a generation, and are fixing the system to make that happen.
We’ve enjoyed ♥ unions week. But we know that we have a fight on our hands if we are going to defeat the Trade Union Bill that puts our movement at risk. We’ll continue to make this case: in Parliament, on twitter, and on the airwaves. But we need your help too.