Following on from the backing offered by Unite, FBU, RMT, and ASLEF unions, Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership has now also received the support of the CWU (postal workers) and TSSA unions, as well as that of UNISON, the big public sector trade union. The unions now need to mobilise all their members to vote for Jeremy.
Following on from the backing offered by Unite, FBU, RMT, and ASLEF unions, Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership has now also received the support of the CWU (postal workers) and TSSA (railway workers) unions, as well as that of UNISON, the big public sector trade union.
Dave Ward, general secretary of the CWU, described Jeremy as the “antidote” to the “virus” of Blairism that has infected the Labour Party.
“We reject the notion that Labour needs to move to the centre ground of British politics,” Ward stated. “The centre ground has moved significantly to the right in recent years. We do not see arguing for fairer wealth distribution, decent jobs with good pay, terms and conditions and a substantial increase in affordable housing for the next generation as a left-wing agenda.”
The unions now need to mobilise all their members to vote for Jeremy.
We publish here a statement by UNISON Socialist Appeal supporters on the recent decision by UNISON to back Corbyn.
Last week, on 29th July, UNISON’s Labour Link National Committee voted heavily in favour of supporting Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour leadership election. This result comes after widespread consultation in the union over the last period. More than anything else, the vote reinforces the fact that this contest centres on how Labour will fight Tory austerity and become an effective opposition to the Tories, which is the pre-condition for a Labour victory in 2020.
There has been a big shift in the union over the last few weeks. At the beginning of July the UNISON National Labour Link Forum met in Manchester. Around 200 delegates from regions attended and a hustings of the Labour leadership candidates took place; Corbyn may have got slightly the better response from the floor but no vote was taken.
Yesterday’s vote, where – despite pressure from the bureaucracy – the overwhelming majority of regions supported Corbyn, indicates that not only have the Labour Link activists shifted their opinion, but also that there is a growing momentum of pressure from below.
New Statesman’s “The Staggers” blog reported:
“The development is still something of a shock within Labour circles, not least because, behind the scenes, Unison used its not inconsiderable muscle to secure early endorsements and nominations from MPs for Cooper. But it is more significant because, while Unison is smaller than Unite, it is regarded as representing the centre of the Labour party. “Unison is us,” one MP once remarked to me: public sector, soft-left, not antagonistic towards the New Labour era but not nostalgic for it either. It was Unison’s switch from Ed Balls to Ed Miliband that convinced several MPs to hand their votes to Miliband, which proved crucial to his narrow victory. (Of the two more centrist trade unions, Community has backed Cooper while Usdaw, the shopworkers’ union has opted for Andy Burnham.)
What’s going on? I’m told that Balls’ support for public sector pay freeze as Shadow Chancellor had soured several senior members of Unison towards the idea of a Cooper endorsement to begin with, but there was still a great deal of goodwill towards Cooper, who has long cultivated her relationships with Unison. It was Cooper, too, who made much of the early running against a continuation of the pay freeze in this year’s budget. But the emergence of Corbyn, who has been even more strident in his opposition to cuts to the public sector, as a credible contender for the party leadership strengthened the hand of the anti-Cooper bloc.”
Why has Labour’s “swing voter” endorsed Jeremy Corbyn” July 29th 2015
Over the years the UNISON Labour Link has played a passive role in the Labour Party; this belies the potential power that the union could have. This vote has shown what is possible. But in the main, the only real Labour Link has been the behind-the-scenes meetings between the tops of the union and an ever more remote Labour Party leadership.
During the Blair years, which coincided with a long economic boom, the UNISON leadership could (by and large) do a deal here, make an agreement there, and at least have something to sell the membership. That all finished with the economic crash. Today, the union leadership struggle to find anything to sell the members. This was illustrated clearly by the Special Local Government conference earlier this year, which slammed the Service Group Executive for its handling of the 2014/15 pay campaign – a campaign that ended in a debacle.
But perhaps most importantly, as The Staggers suggests, in the context of this leadership election, the austerity-lite policies of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, talk of “bleeding stumps” in the public sector, and their decision to support a continuation of Tory wage freezes, have angered many. More recently, the three right-wing candidates’ abstentions on the Welfare Reform Bill really illustrated the gulf between Corbyn and the rest. As we explained previously:
Of course, fighting austerity is precisely what UNISON stewards and branch officers are forced to do every day. There are some horror stories: Tory councils outsourcing everything, as in Barnet; but also Labour councillors acquiescing in the face of budget cuts and failing to lead any sort of movement to fight the cuts. UNISON members will also have been horrified this week to see the Labour front bench failing to oppose further welfare cuts in parliament.
Welfare cuts have a dramatic effect on the services we deliver and on the health and wellbeing of the people who use them: social workers on long term sick leave through stress; home care workers forced to cut the amount of time they spend working with elderly and vulnerable clients; health workers facing uncertainty as the Tories open up the NHS to vultures and bandits. The next five years will be a turning point as the Tories try to drag us back to the 1930s.
To transform Labour into an anti-austerity party, the next step for the union must be to take UNISON’s anti-austerity policies into the Labour Party. At the same time, however, it is important to turn UNISON’s endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn into a real force, by campaigning for all of the union’s 430,000 affiliated members to sign up to vote in the leadership election and vote for Corbyn.
The stakes are very high for UNISON members. This vote is a very significant event in this election. But it will take more than a Labour leadership election to halt austerity. More than anything else, the momentum growing behind Jeremy Corbyn reflects a will among working people for a genuine change; it reflects the chronic uncertainty and instability in society – and that, in turn, is only a reflection of the crisis within capitalism itself.
If we are to defeat austerity, we need also to defeat the diseased and rotten capitalist system that is the cause of the crisis. The fight against austerity must be combined with a struggle for socialism, for the abolition of capitalism, and for a democratically planned economy where the banks and big industry are under the democratic control of working people.