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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The price to be paid

No doubt The Times has its own agenda but its claim that the Trade Unions are to demand new rights as the price for keeping the Labour Party's finances above water does need some consideration.

Amongst the proposed changes we are told they want to see in the Labour manifesto are a repeal of the ban on secondary strike action and the ability to get their members opinion by e-mail or phone rather than the more traditional postal ballot. The GMB union want the upper earnings limit on national insurance to be abolished, which it hopes will redistribute tax. The report also says that they intend to press the Government to look at the way the oil market operates, in the belief that oil companies are exploiting London’s light-touch regulation in a way that harms its members:

Other demands likely to be made by the unions, according to Tribune magazine, include: mandatory company audits to ensure equal pay between men and women, a policy supported by Harriet Harman before she became deputy leader; new rules to protect the jobs of workers whose companies are bought out by private equity firms; reform of the minimum wage, with some unions keen to see the end of age-based banding; a greater commitment to producing more goods and services within Britain, without breaking EU law.

All of this of course may already be on the table for those constructing the Labour manifesto. The Times says that Gordon Brown is receptive to many of the ideas but he will not want to be seen to be held for ransom by the unions, nor will he want to let the voting public think that large donors, even if they are Trade Unions rather then rich individuals, can buy influence in this way.

True or not, this story just underlines again the need for the reform of the way that political parties are financed.
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