Unions to lose influence in Labour party conference

Trade secretary Alan Johnson has floated plans to slash the influence of trade unions at the party’s annual conference.

Johnson suggested that a “correct balance” would see the unions wield 15% of the votes at conference, less than a third of the current 50%.

The proposal comes amid growing wariness among the Labour leadership about the prospect of a merger between Amicus, the Transport & General Workers’ Union and GMB to create a “superunion” of more than 2.5 million members.

Johnson – a former leader of the CWU communications union – told the Times: “Trade unions have been absolutely central to the founding of the party. But whether they should have 50% of the voting at the party conference now… At the National Policy Forum they have about 15% of the vote. That is a correct balance.”

Union leaders gave Johnson’s proposals a hostile reception. Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson told the paper the unions will “resist” the proposal.

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