Look Ahead: Unions at Labour Party Conference


Campaign for New Commission on Workers Rights from GMB, Motion from Unison on Low-Pay, Proposed Rule-Change from Aslef, Community Labour Campaign Network

AP reports that Labour Conference will include a call from the GMB union for Labour to set up a commission to “redress the balance” on workers’ rights. Such a commission might be seen as an antidote to the controversial hire-and-fire proposals in the Government commissioned Beecroft report.


Unison has submitted a motion which attacks the public sector pay freeze. It reads: “Conference condemns the prolonged pay freezes that mean public sector workers have had their real terms pay cut dramatically and notes that most of the lowest paid have not received the £250 rise that Osborne promised. Conference believes that depressing workers’ living standards in a recession is self-defeating and contributes to economic stagnation.”


Aslef is pressing for a rule change which would impact groups which work closely with Labour and its candidates. Aslef is suggesting an amendment to Labour’s constitution, which reads: “Political organisations not affiliated or associated under a national agreement with the party, but whom engage in internal activity, shall be required to:

i. Notify the national party of all legally reportable donations received.

ii. Transfer 50% of all donations received beyond the first £25,000 per annum to the national Labour Party.

Incorporated organisations that engage in internal activity shall be required to provide upon request all legal, constitutional and financial documentation to the National Executive Committee to ensure that they meet acceptable standards of democracy, governance and transparency. These organisations are expected to abide by the authority of the NEC in such matters.”


The proposed rule change would be decided at next year’s annual conference if accepted for debate.




The unions are using the fringe at conference to discuss some of the key political issues for the Party and their members, creating spaces for discussion rather than pushing particular policies or campaigns: Though the economy and austerity remain popular issues to be addressed by unions at their fringe events, the participation of teaching and health unions mean public services are well covered. Workplace rights and training also feature highly, reflecting traditional union priorities.



The union Community will be using one of its fringe events to promote it’s Labour Campaign Network. Joining the Network as a Labour Party member means over 50% of subs go to Labour Party campaigning.




Unions21 has events on social partnerships, economic democracy and young workers on Monday lunchtime and evening and on Tuesday. Click on the events tab on the home page for more information.




The Rail unions’ fringe event is at 17.30 in the mechanic’s institute, at the same time as education unions get together in the Midland Hotel for an event about the proposed primary curriculum. The Trade Union Reception is also at 17:30 in the Midland.#




The Morning Star rally takes place at mid-day in the Exchange Auditorium of Manchester Central. At lunchtime the GMB has a fringe on women’s workplace rights, Unite’s on defeating austerity, Community on its Labour Campaign Network, USDAW on anti-social behaviour and NASUWT on special educational needs.


Looking to Monday evening, the TUC has an event on employee rights and ATL’s fringe with Stephen Twigg MP takes place 6-7.30pm. The NFU has a event at 19:00, Community is sponsoring the Labour Third Sector reception at 20:00 and Unite the Palestine & Middle East reception at 20:30.




Unionlearn’s fringe with Frances O’Grady takes place on Tuesday lunchtime at the Premier Inn, the Justice for Colombia fringe is at 12:30. PCS’s fringe at 12:30 is on alternatives to austerity. CLASS (Centre for Labour and Social Studies) has a fringe on Equality at 17:30, at 17:45 UNISON has an event on social care.

Tuesday evening in the People’s History Museum GMB have sponsored an event which brings together Tristram Hunt, Tony Benn and Owen Jones (20:00)




Unite have a ‘Reconnecting Labour’ event at 12:30 and the NASUWT have an event on social mobility at 1300 (both in Manchester Central).

At the Health Hotel the health professionals organisations such as RCM and BDA have events throughout conference.



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