Socialist Worker

Unite 4 Labour in Edinburgh: Derek Simpson fails to deliver

by A Unite shop steward
Issue No. 2197

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of the Unite union, and John Prescott spoke at a “Unite 4 Labour” election meeting in Edinburgh on Thursday of last week.

It was a political disaster for both the Unite leadership and the Labour Party.

Derek Simpson admitted that Labour has lost millions of supporters.

He then said, “We must have Labour re-elected, as it will be easier to change the Labour Party in power than out of power.”

He called union leaders like Mark Serwotka of the PCS “idiots” for making comments against Labour.

Unite members questioned Simpson about his leadership of the British Airways dispute. 

His response was breathtaking. Simpson called the BA strike committee “clowns” for calling for 12 days of action.

And he described strikers as “deluded” for thinking they could win.

Unbelievably he said that the vote for strikes was not strong enough – despite the vote being 90 percent .

Simpson added that such strikes would lose the Labour Party the election and added that the union was still not big enough to challenge the bosses.

At which point someone shouted from the floor, “how big does this fucking union have to be before we can fight back?”

Edinburgh bin workers asked why Unite had done nothing for them in their dispute over single status.

The only response they got was that “the union’s hands are tied”.

About eight contributions were made from the floor and all were critical of the union leadership’s lack of support for workers who wanted to fight.

All identified the reason as the union’s ties to Labour.

As a bin worker said after the meeting, “That meeting was hypocrisy of the highest order.

“We have seen the legal system used to stop people from carrying out their right to strike.

“We have seen the government cosy up to big business while announcing huge cuts to public services.

“Now Labour have come cap in hand to the same groups they have attacked asking for their support to get another term in office.”

Simpson is willing to sacrifice the BA workers in order to ease the pain for Labour.

Every rank and file activist must do all we can to secure a victory for the BA workers.

» Revealed: inside the Unite executive discussing the BA dispute

Derek Simpson and John Prescott will be addressing another 'Unite 4 Labour' rally tonight, Wednesday 14 April, at 7pm. It will take place at Friends meeting house on Euston Road and is open to all Unite members.


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Tue 13 Apr 2010, 18:51 BST
Issue No. 2197
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