Labour still favoured by Siptu vote

Jack O'Connor: 'Constructive' debate.

It’s still Labour’s Way for Siptu after trade union delegates yesterday rejected a motion calling for a cutting of its ties with the party.

Motion 29 was tabled by the education sector of the public administration and community division of Siptu at its biennial delegates conference held in Cork, with proposer Kieran Allen claiming the historical link between Siptu and Labour was akin to “an abusive relationship”.

Referring to “the small matter of a general election in the next few weeks or months”, he argued issues such as water charges had led to people turning away from Labour, with the party an “enthusiastic and active collaborator” in implementing unpopular policies. Due to the historical affiliation between Siptu and Labour, the trade union’s political fund can be used to provide some financial support to Labour candidates in elections but not for Siptu members running for other parties.

“The Labour Party is collaborating with Fine Gael and to tell us it could be worse [without the party in government] is like telling someone who lost their phone allowance ‘oh well, at least they didn’t take your sofa off you,” Mr Allen said.

Referring to Labour as a “minority party of the left”, he said a vote on the issue was a matter of conscience and added: “When you have an abusive relationship it is time to shout stop.”

The motion was seconded before it was opened to the floor, with some speakers agreeing with the motion and others claiming Labour had achieved success in government, citing the marriage equality referendum, the minimum wage and employment regulation orders signed into law last week.

Delegate Shirley Bradshaw, from the arts and culture section, sought the remittance of the motion, claiming simply cutting ties with Labour was “non-specific” and given the “quite fragmented” composition of left wing parties and candidates, would leave Siptu “politically directionless”.

After what Siptu general secretary Jack O’Connor called a “very constructive debate”, the matter was put to a vote. Delegates were asked if the issue should be remitted for broader discussion, a move which was passed overwhelmingly.

The previous motion, on reviewing Siptu’s political fund, was also passed, with a review to be conducted before a report is presented at a special conference in 2017.

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