One quarter of motions tabled from GMB branches relate to Labour affiliation – some call for union to “walk away” from the party

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Senior GMB officials say they are “determined” that the union’s relations with the Labour Party will form a major plank in the debate at GMB Congress in Brighton in June.

In what is described as an “unprecedented” move, around 80 motions on the issue have been tabled from branches – one quarter of the agenda.

GMB’s Central Executive Committee, which met on Tuesday, issued a statement expressing “concern and disappointment with recent statements made by senior [Labour] party officials and … growing frustration at the lack of a cohesive policy to protect working people from the ravages of the Tory led coalition government.”

More than 80 MPs are members of the GMB. The union gives Labour more than £2 million a year in affiliation fees and other funds, making it the third largest union donor to the party.

The slew of motions on GMB’s links with Labour comes after comments last month from general secretary Paul Kenny (pictured). He warned that backing a 1% pay cap could have a “profound impact” on the union’s relationship with Labour.

With a series of Labour-run councils taking the lead from Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls by calling for a third year of pay freeze to be imposed on council staff, the issue of Labour affiliation is no longer seen as theoretical by GMB branches, but is about the real world of cuts to their income.

The last time the issue of GMB’s affiliation to Labour came up was in 2006, when a single motion was tabled and the branch which submitted it refused to withdraw.

Now, with dozens of motions on the draft agenda, sources say the more difficult question this year is: who will stand up to oppose them?


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