Opinion: Trade Union Cuts
Who Should Decide?
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There has always been a strenuous relationship between the Conservative party and the Trade Unions and so it is unsurprising that a recent legislation had been proposed to cut the amount of funding the trade unions can give to the Labour party.
The proposal would see the funding of the party decrease by £6m a year which would set the Labour party back a massive £35m over the 5 year parliament. Not only would the TU cuts have a significant impact on the Labour party, cuts would also come in the form of annual affiliation fees and grants, which allows them to be linked to the opposing party.
As with all legislation it had to be scrutinised by the House of Lords before anything can be put into place and it is probable that Labour found some sort of relief at the outcome as they have 327 peers in favour of Labour's proposal to reconsider the bill.
The Lords decided that the bill needed further scrutiny in the commons due to concerns by not only the Labour peers, but also those who support the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The Labour party are already set to face £1.3m annual cuts when the state funding for political parties are reduced and concerns have been raised about how taking funding away from the opposition, when it's argued that they need it the most, could potentially damage democracy within the UK if anything severe were to happen to the Labour party.
So why do the Trade Unions still matter in modern day politics and why are the Labour party so reliant on them?
The introduction of trade unionism made it's way into the political world during the economic crises that took place during the 1960's and 1970's in the UK. Since the 1880's, when many Trade Union members joined the Labour Representation Committee (now the Labour party), the partnership between Trade Unions and the Labour party has blossomed due to their shared interest in protecting those who are 'working class' in Britain, thus explaining the funding.
Despite the authority that the Trade Unions has today, even in an age where industry and coal mining is not at the forefront of British worker, the help that the Labour party offers on a political level means that the interest of workers can remain a prevalent issue.
In modern day Britain the trade unions benefit all workers - and not just those in unions, as they work in affiliation with the Labour party to tackle work related issues such as; the conditions and pay of employees by discussion with the employers, the impact of large scale changes such as redundancy and discussing concerns of the members with employers.
Due to the impact that trade unions have on the working world it would not seem plausible for the Conservative party to make such drastic cuts to the funding that the Labour party receives from the trade unions. The 14 Labour- affiliated trade unions can already opt out of automatically funding the party, so should it be the decision of the government to cut funding or should they let the trade unions decide?