BRITAIN’S FOURTH biggest union voted to withhold £750,000 from the Labour Party in a shock protest last week.
The leader of the GMB, Kevin Curran, had promised the funds to Labour’s central election campaign.
But the union’s central executive committee snubbed the government and voted by over 80 percent to donate money only to MPs who support GMB policies.
Curran said, “I want to maintain the link, but the mood in the Labour Party, in the country, among constituency activists and trade union members, is to reduce funding and support.”
GMB branch secretary Henry Rajch told Socialist Worker, “Curran told me a few weeks ago that I was dreaming to think the GMB would ever come close to breaking with Labour, so I was delighted when I heard the news.
“The committee that made the decision is known to be mild and bland, but people are angry. Our executive member in Barnsley works in a hospital that has been given foundation status. I’m sure he is fed up about that, and the privatisation of hospital services.”
London GMB activist Danny Faith said, “The vote shows the real frustration with the government that has been building up in the union.
“A lot of GMB members work in services that have been flogged off, and their lives are worse because of it.
“There is also frustration building up with Kevin Curran himself. One of the other issues the executive meeting discussed was the Aviance dispute at the airports. The stewards involved felt the union leadership had acted outside their remit by talking to the company. These two things have fused together.”
Rita McLaughlin, a GMB member from Manchester, said, “I raised the question of the political fund at a branch meeting, and I found a really high level of political awareness.
“People were really angry that our money still goes to Labour after what they did to the firefighters and the nursery nurses.”
Dick Pole is the branch secretary of north west London GMB. He says, “As soon as I got into work on the day it was announced, a woman came up to me and said, ‘This is great news. We must draw up a motion of congratulation and support’.
“The GMB-sponsored Labour MPs are reported to be spitting mad—well, tough luck. They get money from the union. But they are not only unaccountable to us, they are actually responsible for directly attacking our members’ jobs and conditions.”