Union buries chance of backing for PR system

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Indy Politics
ANY CHANCE that Labour would support proportional representation at this year's party conference was in effect buried yesterday by the Transport and General Workers' Union, writes Barrie Clement.

The union's biennial conference decided to deploy the TGWU's one million block votes against the policy. Opponents of the union block vote will point out that it could take a change of mind by only 10 TGWU delegates to swing Labour behind support for a momentous change in Britain's constitution.

Enthusiasts for electoral reform face opposition not only from the TGWU - the party's biggest affiliate - but also the GMB, the second biggest union which decided to oppose a new system earlier this year. Only the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union has supported PR.

Bill Morris, general secretary of the TGWU, who is a strong supporter of electoral reform, expressed his disappointment at the decision. He said PR would be fairer, but Dave Quayle, of the union's north- west region, said that under PR: 'We would never have another Labour government.'

The party's largest affiliate also resurrected a damaging row over employment law by calling for 'root and branch' repeal of all 'anti- union' legislation since 1979.

Referring to the TGWU's decision, a senior Labour Party source said: 'If they want to cut their own throats, that's up to them. We won't let them cut ours.'

The conference called for a positive framework of individual rights at work which allows for a law on strike ballots, but which sets out no restrictions on sympathy action.

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