Labour’s War on the Unions is unacceptable for a so-called workers’ party

By Bradley Bernard
Chief Leader Writer

TRADITIONALLY, the Labour Party has been the natural home for the working class and the most vulnerable in society.

It’s why trade unions consistently affiliated themselves with Labour – to be a trade unionist was also, in many cases, to be a member of the party.

The link between the two had been weakened under New Labour before finding new life during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.

Under Sir Keir Starmer, however, Labour has not only neglected their union comrades, but been actively hostile.

During a year which has seen a massive trade union resurgence and waves of strikes which could uplift the working class, such behaviour is unacceptable.

Perhaps it wasn’t enough that Sir Keir banned his MPs from joining rail, mail and NHS workers on picket lines from summer. According to the Labour leader, his party needed to promote solutions and diplomacy rather than seeking to protest.

It’s a stance which his fans will say is politically savvy, but which working people – whether they are trade unionists or not – will see as weak.

With inflation continuing to soar, refusing to back workers simply rallying against a real-terms pay cut is not the conduct of a ‘Party for the Workers’.

There’s a difference between indifference and actively working against the unions, however.

Shadow ministers have appeared on the airwaves over the past couple of weeks suggesting they would be happy to sit down with unions to resolve pay disputes – but refused to commit to matching their demands.

It’s such activity that makes voters question the point of Labour – for nurses, rail workers and millions of other trade union members across the nation, there is no major party backing for their reasonable demands.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting has spent much of the last week lashing out at the British Medical Association for having the gall to criticise Labour’s inaction on NHS pay.

Dr Emma Runswick, deputy chair of council at the BMA, said: “It wasn’t so long ago that Mr Streeting and the Labour Party were clapping healthcare workers for their contributions during the pandemic, so to hear them now accusing staff of a ‘something for nothing’ culture and potentially supporting further real-terms pay cuts will leave many staff extremely concerned.”

There has already been talk of unions cutting off funding to Labour since Sir Keir took the helm. If his party line refuses to budge, he can expect those threats to become reality.


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Featured Image: Roger Blackwell @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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