DELEGATES AT the annual conference of the broadcasting and entertainment union Bectu delivered a blow to New Labour last weekend. They went against the union's leadership and carried a motion demanding a membership-wide vote on the union's affiliation with the Labour Party. The vote produced a 61 percent majority in favour, with delegates casting branch votes of 9,165 votes for and 5,960 against.
The motion attacked New Labour for the 'increasing number of confrontations with public sector workers seeking better pay and conditions' and its 'policies of privatisation and cuts'. The motion was tabled before the war with Iraq. But much of the discussion was taken up with criticising Labour over the war.
The national executive committee now has to research into alternatives to Labour that 'better represent' members 'locally or nationally'. It also has to offer members the opportunity to vote on whether the union should stay affiliated to the Labour Party.
Bectu currently gives £23,925 to the Labour Party, and has reduced its affiliation from fees representing 11,000 members to 8,000. The union represents around 26,000 workers in TV and radio, theatres, bingo halls and other areas.
Bectu deputy general secretary Gerry Morrissey said, 'Our members are not the only trade union members concerned about the leadership of the Labour Party. I would not be surprised if this was the tip of the iceberg.'