Willis in move to avoid TUC clash

NORMAN WILLIS, the Trades Union Congress leader, will tomorrow attempt to avoid an old-fashioned clash when the conference opens on Monday, over the readmission of the electricians to the official movement.

Mr Willis will try to persuade leaders of the National Union of Journalists to remit a motion which would make readmission highly unlikely. The rival Institute of Journalists, which is outside the TUC, has become part of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union.

The NUJ motion is unlikely to be passed, but it is equally unlikely to be remitted and there is almost certain be an embarrassing row in which the old tensions between right and left re-emerge.

After a day-long meeting on Thursday, the TUC General Council agreed a procedure for the readmission of the electricians, now part of the Amalgmated Engineering and Electrical Union. As it stands, only the engineers' section of the AEEU is affiliated to the TUC.

A statement thrashed out by TUC leaders said a conciliation process, chaired by Rodney Bickerstaffe, the TUC president, following the conference in Blackpool, would seek to address NUJ concerns about the alleged poaching of other union members by the electricians and their links with non-TUC organisations. Although no vote was taken at the general council, the statement was passed with the agreement of the GPMU print union, which saw more than 2,500 of its members dismissed by News International in the move to Wapping in the mid-1980s.

The electricians merged with the engineering union this year to form a 1 million strong group, whose members will be balloted next March on whether to affiliate to the TUC. The EETPU was expelled from the TUC four years ago for refusing to abandon two single-union agreements on the instructions of Congress House.

Bill Jordan, president of the AEEU, admitted the expulsion had caused divisions that would take time to heal. But he was hopeful that the obstacles to the merged union joining the TUC would eventually be removed.

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