Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Unions – Part two

Since posting my earlier blog Labour funded by trades unions ? I wonder why ? this evening I’ve spotted a few other things out there.

Notably this on Prodicus blog, Prodicus: Taxpayers gave £12 million to Unite who gave £11 million of it to the Labour Party. moaning about a supposed channelling of £12 Million pounds to Unite vie the Union Modernisation Fund.

Very interesting that Prodicus claims that £12M made it’s way to Unite, whilst Iain Dale claims, Iain Dale’s Diary: The Tories Must Abolish the Union Modernisation Fund that the figure is 4.4 Million. Still what’s £7.6 Million amongst Tory buddies when 50% of teenagers get pregnant ?

Interesting also to see this piece on the FT website Tories would not scrap the union modernisation fund? | Westminster Blog | which points out a rather different view from David Cameron’s envoy (and former Labour MEP) Richard Balfe – which is presumably shared by David Cameron.

“He played down the cost of the UMF, saying it costs around £12-16 million a year – a drop in the ocean with national debt on course for over £1 trillion.”

The original interview – for Tribune – can be seen here Labour gives taxpayers’ money to unions? Yes, and Tories too, probably… « René Lavanchy’s Blog I’d advise reading both articles – some very interesting points cropping up regarding the barriers that exist to channelling any of the UMF fund into political activity, Tory support for this, and the equal funding for Unions not affiliated to the Labour Party.

Lest we forget, Membership of a trades union is entirely voluntary – thanks (and I do mean that – closed shops are not something I approve of) to Margaret Thatcher, and members can opt out of political funds, and also put themselves up for election.

Other Links :

Left Foot Forward addresses this issue tonight at Stop press: Unions support Labour | Left Foot Forward ;

and the TUC has published information about the Union Modernisation Fund here Trades Union Congress – The Union Modernisation Fund: A Guide To Emerging Learning

March 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Labour funded by trades unions ? I wonder why ?

There’ve been a lot of slurs thrown about in the Tory blogosphere & press regarding the union “Unite”, and its funding of the Labour Party election campaign.

Who would have thought a trades union would give money to the Labour Party ?

Well anyone who’d studied the history of the Labour movement I guess.

The Labour Party was founded in the late 19th Century at the behest of …    that’s right – the Trades Union Congress – which was responding to calls from member unions, to provide a means to unite the efforts of all broadly socialist groups into a single entity to challenge more effectively as a force in parliamentary elections.

The Labour movement is an amalgam of many organisations and groups – of a fairly diverse range of political opinion, influenced for instance by the Temperance movement, Non-Conformist Christian groups, but all united by their dedication to democratic socialism. Many groups – for instance the Fabian Society are very clearly part of this movement – although it is not necessary to be part of the Labour Party to be part of the Fabians.

The Labour Party itself can clearly be seen to be a child of the trades union movement – and not the other way round. Not that it really matters – they arose out of the same schools of thought.

It follows that it’s only natural that a trades union should raise funds to elect a Labour Government. It’s not secret, it’s perfectly transparent, and it’s exactly what one would expect.

Personally I’m quite proud that the contributions of workers, working collectively, are used to fund the Labour Party.

I think it’s much more fitting than having a sugar daddy.

There’s more on this here Luke’s Blog: Shock, horror! Labour linked to unions! ; and here Bob Piper : An amazing discovery

March 16, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , | 3 Comments

A Victory for BA ? I don’t think so !

The news today that Unite’s 12 days of Christmas strike of cabin crew at BA has been declared illegal in the court is being trumpeted as a victory for British Airways ( British Airways strike blocked by court ).

I suspect that it will be a hollow victory.

Unite have played a rather successful hand in this dispute so far. They managed to leak the video of the announcement of the ballot, showing delirious members celebrating a 90% plus vote in favour as though England had just won the world cup. Powerful stuff – it’s not easy to get that kind of a majority voting in favour of losing 12 days pay over the festive season.

I’m sure many people also got the sound bite from Unite that they were not asking BA to withdraw their proposals – just suspend them – a pause for peace – in other words to do the same as Royal Mail, avoid confrontation over the Christmas period, and give some space for negotiation. ( Macho management pushing British Airways to the brink ).

In other words, despite the obvious concern that Christmas holidays could be well and truly up the spout for thousands of people, they did a good PR job of persuading people that this was because of inept management by BA – preferring to confront rather than negotiate.

And what did BA do ? They challenged it in the court to stop the strike. A pyrrhic victory if ever there was one.

They could have achieved this by just saying “OK we’ll hang on a few weeks before implementing new conditions” – simple ! No loss of face, a slight delay, and no loss of custom over Christmas.

Instead they spend money on legal fees, postpone the strike, and the dispute rumbles on. There’ll be another ballot, and with the previous one with over 90% support you can bet your life it will be successful again.

Plus it makes the BA management look a bunch of plonkers

Plus it gives the Unite crews exactly what they wanted – maximum publicity, no need to strike for the time being, and no loss of pay over Christmas.

Makes you wonder if they knew there was a technical loophole in the strike ballot that BA could exploit in the first place !

Hmm !, we’ll never know.

In honesty I don’t have much idea what this strike’s about – but as a casual observer, whatever the rights and wrongs, BA need to sit down and do some talking, because no one wants strikes, no one wants to see BA suffer financially, and also : – Unite are running rings round you !

December 17, 2009 Posted by | news, politics | , , , | 1 Comment


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