British TUs push against war

D OC donaloc at
Tue Sep 10 03:09:08 MDT 2002

Monday, 9 September, 2002, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Unions warn Blair over Iraq

TUC General Secretary John Monks [pro-Blairite] told delegates at its annual
conference in Blackpool that the United Nations "was the only possible
route" towards military action.

In a fierce debate, the leaders of some of Britain's biggest unions,
including Unison and the CWU, stressed their opposition to a US-led war.

But an amendment flatly opposing military action in Iraq by the US or anyone
else was narrowly defeated by the block votes of the TGWU, GMB and Amicus
[the former two are pro-Labour leadership - the latter is now transferring
to the left].

Blair frustration

Nevertheless, the level of opposition to any military action voiced in
Monday's debate means Mr Blair faces a rough ride when he addresses the TUC
conference on Tuesday.

Mr Blair is expected to use his speech to outline his frustration with the
UN's stance towards Saddam Hussein's breaches of its own resolutions.


Amicus joint general secretary Roger Lyons also angered left-wingers by
saying the TSSA amendment could have been tabled "by the trades council of

Transport workers leader, Bill Morris also backed the general council's
motion and rejected the TSSA amendment, despite voicing his vehement
opposition to war.

He said: "Before contemplating war anywhere, show the people the evidence,
because if you cannot our voice is a simple one.

"Read our lips: no more war."

But the government had a narrow escape.

The amendment might have been carried if if left-winger Derek Simpson had
officially begun his term of office as general secretary of Amicus, union
sources indicated.

'Repeal union laws'

Earlier in the day, the TUC called for anti-union laws to be repealed and
called for more union rights in the workplace.

There were also demands for legislation to force companies to provide good
pensions schemes.

Calls for strike action by firefighters in their continuing pay wrangle also
got backing.

The militant RMT rail union also said it planned to ballot its members on
the London Underground, Merseyrail and the Newcastle Metro to refuse to work
on safety grounds if the firefighters striked.


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