Politics: Unison grows impatient with Labour's trade-union policy

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The Independent Online
SIGNS OF growing exasperation with Tony Blair will emerge today in the party's biggest union affiliate which pays pounds 1.5m a year to Labour.

While senior figures in the union movement have so far managed to keep the lid on much of the disaffection, activists at a key political conference of Public Service Union Unison will make clear their growing impatience of government policy and demand changes to their organisation's strategy.

Delegates to the meeting in Torquay will attack their own officials for failing to campaign for the union's left-wing policies.

Activists are seeking a repeal of all anti-union law, rather than what they see as the piecemeal and half-hearted reform envisaged by Mr Blair. They will also demand that the national minimum wage be set at pounds 4.61 rather than the pounds 3.60 an hour likely to be recommended by the Low Pay Commission later this month.

The conference is expected to endorse a resolution calling for higher state expenditure and for the abolition of the Private Finance Initiative which seeks business input into public projects.

It takes place ahead of the publication of the "fairness at work" White Paper which is expected to be published on Thursday. Leading Unison members are particularly angry about the document's predicted proposals on union recognition. Activists believe that collective bargaining rights should receive the backing of the law if endorsed by a majority vote in a ballot. Ministers, however, are insisting that 40 per cent of all those eligible to vote would need to back recognition.

Geoff Martin, Unison's London convenor, said Labour seemed to be grateful to accept the money on the basis that the union's representatives failed to campaign for their own policies.

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