On 17 June, the Local Government sector conference of the public sector union Unison voted to back the Councillors Against Cuts network (CAC).
It voted down a wrecking amendment from its Service Group Executive designed to gut the motion of support of its content. The SGE argued that full support for CAC would place the union in legal jeopardy, as it would mean pressuring councils to set illegal budgets.
One delegate told Solidarity: “The union leadership wheels this argument out to block any attempt to do anything vaguely militant. But people have had enough of it.”
CAC is a group of Labour and ex-Labour councillors who have committed to vote against all cuts, even if it means defying a Labour whip.
Unison is the main union organising in councils and local authorities, and one of the Labour Party’s biggest union affiliates.
If — if — it acts on this policy, the union will use its considerable weight within the Labour Party to defend rebel councillors against discipline and sanction from the party hierarchy. It will use its presence in local government workplaces to help mobilise against cuts and bolster rebel councillors’ stance. Unison could also demand its sponsored councillors defy cuts or risk losing union support.
CAC, which is backed by the Labour Representation Committee, plans a conference in September.