Labour conference: GMB under fire for attempts to block Green New Deal

  • Labour’s third biggest union in plot to block Green New Deal proposals
  • Union, which backs airport expansion, drags out compositing process into second day
  • Delegates condemn “irresponsible” behaviour from union
The GMB trade union has come under fire for attempting to block one of the most important planks of Labour’s flagship “Green New Deal” policy.

(For proposals for a radical, socialist Green New Deal from Riccardo la Torre of the Fire Brigades Union, see here.)
In the early hours of Sunday morning, exasperated delegates emerged from a marathon compositing meeting in which the GMB blocked three major policies from being debated on conference floor. On a 2030 target date for decarbonisation; a halt on airport expansion; and Labour’s popular fracking ban policy, the GMB stonewalled delegates until the small hours, demanding their removal from the motions paper.
After the GMB stalled for time until the point that the Hilton Hotel staff were obliged to close the room, the compositing meeting is set to be reconvened at 6:30pm on Sunday night: and delegates are pledging to make sure that the three central green policies make it into the motion.
After the biggest climate strike yet saw over half a million on the streets of the UK and many more worldwide from Australia to Afghanistan, delegates from more than 120 Constituency Labour Parties sent motions calling for a “Green New Deal” to nationalise the energy sector, create green jobs, guarantee job security for workers in industries requiring restructuring, and repeal union laws to allow workers to force employers and government to clean up their act.
But the GMB has taken what many call a “sectionalist” stance, refusing to countenance the ban on fracking that many Labour activists and communities in the Labour heartlands call for, citing concerns over job losses.
But trade union activists and Labour members say they will continue to fight for Labour to be the real party of climate action, by pressing for a 2030 target date, an end to airport expansion and a fracking ban in the face of “climate denialist” opposition.
Malcolm Hunter, a delegate from Leicester South CLP, said: 
“The Green New Deal means change. But it means a change that’s led by workers and their representatives, not bosses throwing people on the scrapheap. For the GMB to say that these measures to save the environment and create millions of green jobs are going to lead to unemployment is irresponsible and wrong.”
Urte Macikene, a delegate from Dulwich and West Norwood CLP, said:
“Leading climate scientists agree that we have 11 years to complete a transition away from fossil fuels and avert irreversible climate catastrophe. A 2030 target for decarbonisation is widely accepted as what’s necessary – from local authorities who have declared a climate emergency to the UK climate strikers at the forefront of international resistance.  We have a mass mandate from the membership to deliver an ambitious target and we owe it to them to ensure Labour has a climate policy which leads, rather than falls behind, the international consensus.”
Lyndsey Derbyshire, a delegate from Charnwood CLP, said:
“This is a member-led Party. The GMB should not have the power to determine what our comrades on the Conference floor are able to debate.”

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *