Letter: Labour and the unions

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The Independent Online
Sir: Anne McElvoy says (Comment, 12 May) that trade unions and John Monks would have more influence if they severed their links with Labour.

Let's make it clear. John Monks and the TUC have no institutional links with the Labour Party. Neither do the majority of the unions in the TUC. Even Unison is only affiliated for part of its membership. How does this give them more influence than those who are?

My own union is affiliated to the Labour Party, but we lobby all political parties on relevant issues. We have a Parliamentary Committee of 80 MPs, 11 MEPs and 8 members of the House of Lords. We regularly brief them and are advised by them. MPs welcome our first-hand knowledge of the world of work.

The same goes for our day-to-day work in developing party policies as an affiliated union on issues where our members have expertise, such as competitiveness, healthcare, life-long learning, and fairness at work. With the MSF nominee Margaret Wall as deputy to Tony Blair on the joint Policy Committee of the Labour Party, and our representatives on the National Policy Forum and its key sub-committees, our direct affiliation enables the concerns of those in the world of work, their families and communities to complement the views of the "great and the good".

Affiliation provides for ordinary people to have a say at all levels - just as it was always intended to.


General Secretary


London EC1