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Autumn of Discontent: Trade Unions Vote to Strike at Labour Party HQ

© REUTERS / BERESFORD HODGEBritain's Labour Party leader Keir Starmer leaves his home in London
Britain's Labour Party leader Keir Starmer leaves his home in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.09.2021
The Labour Party's link to the British trade union movement that helped found it in 1906 has been put under greater strain than ever since the 2019 election defeat to Boris Johnson's Tories and the suspension of left-wing former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Members of two of Labour's biggest trade union backers have voted to strike against redundancies at the party's head office.
Super-unions Unite and GMB — boasting a combined membership of two million — reported overwhelming votes in favour of strike action over plans to lay off 90 staff at the opposition party's Westminster HQ on Wednesday.
Nine out of ten Unite members at the Victoria Street office reportedly voted in the ballot, with 78 percent of those backing a strike, while 76 percent of GMB members there voted the same way, on a 79 percent turnout. That put support for industrial action comfortably above the statutory threshold of half of all members at a workplace.
"Labour Party workers have shown the strength of their anger at this ballot result", said GMB Organiser Vaughan West. "We hope party bosses will now sit up, take notice and talk with unions so we can avoid compulsory redundancies".

Following the vote, the unions will meet Labour's administrative chiefs on 3 September to try and reach a compromise.
​"Labour will be meeting with Unite and the GMB this Friday and both unions are hopeful that a way forward can be found that avoids any compulsory redundancies or resultant industrial action", said Unite regional officer Matt Smith.

Breaking the Union Link?

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, right, and John McDonnell Shadow Chancellor on stage during the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre , Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.07.2021
Get Woke, Go Broke: Labour Lays Off 90 Staff as Leaders Purge Left-Wingers
The two unions, mergers of bodies that helped found the Labour Party in 1906, are among the biggest affiliates to — and funders of — the party.
GMB General Secretary Gary Smith said in June his union would have "an honest conversation” with Labour about “funding and support”, adding that it was "definitely not" getting enough "bang for buck" from donations to the party.
Recently-elected Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham has said she wants to see Labour earn its union donations — £3 million from Unite at the 2019 general election — on a "payment by results" basis, saying the union would no longer write the party a "blank cheque". Ironically, Graham tweeted on Tuesday that it was time for the union to "move beyond internal Labour politics".

​The redundancies at Labour HQ were reportedly driven by a financial crisis caused by a slump in membership since leader Sir Keir Starmer's election in April 2020 and large pay-outs over claims of anti-Semitism and bullying in the party. Meanwhile, Labour General Secretary David Evans is hiring 30 to 50 "temporary investigation officers" on short-term contracts to help purge more left-wingers.
Starmer has been consistently lagging behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives in opinion polls, failing to capitalise on the COVID-19 pandemic or the chaotic pull-pout from Afghanistan.
Bakers and food workers' union BFAWU has called an emergency congress, coinciding with Labour's annual conference in Brighton at the end of September, to vote on a motion to disaffiliate from the party after its President Ian Hodson was threatened with expulsion from Labour for links to the recently banned group Labour Against the Witchhunt.
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