SNP union group to seek Unite talks

A motion coming before the Unite conference later this year is calling for more autonomy for the union in Scotland by establishing a new Scottish executive committee. Picture: Getty Images

A motion coming before the Unite conference later this year is calling for more autonomy for the union in Scotland by establishing a new Scottish executive committee. Picture: Getty Images

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The SNP’s trades union group is to seek talks with leading unions about the prospect of providing support for the Nationalists.

The group - which boasts about 16,000 members - says unions must look beyond Labour and reflect the views of their members who are increasingly voting SNP.

It follows a warning from Len McCluskey. the head of the UK’s biggest union Unite, that moves are afoot north of the border to give it more political campaigning freedom which wouldn’t “limit” it to Labour.

Malcolm Balfour of the SNP Trades Union group said: “I intend to contact more than just Unite in my capacity as Scottish national organiser of the SNP trades union group.

“I think it’s essential that we, as a group within the SNP, has a more varied dialogue with different trade unions.

He added: “It’s imperative given the size of the SNP and the amount of MPs that we have, it’s vital that we have open discussions with the trade unions on a wider field.”

Unite, public sector union Unison and the CWU all called on Mr Murphy to quit.

Mr Balfour added: “I think it would be interesting to see what other unions intend to do after they came out against Mr Murphy.”

Mr Balfour said he would be lobbying for unions to back the SNP but this needn’t “necessarily be financial.”

He added: “It can be verbal support, it can be dialogue with Unite and their members. I think what every trade union needs to remember is they have members who support many different political parties.”

A motion coming before the Unite conference later this year is calling for more autonomy for the union in Scotland by establishing a new Scottish executive committee.

A Unite spokesman said this is about ensuring sufficient scope for the union to set “industrial, political and social campaigning policy” in Scotland following the new powers coming to Scotland as a result of the Smith Commission.

But it does not refer directly to political affiliation with the SNP or disaffiliation from Labour.

“With regard to affiliating to other political parties it’s just not on the agenda,” he said.

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