Unions say Yes – on the traditional May Day March

May Day is the traditional occasion for the Labour movement to celebrate the solidarity of working men and women, and to commemorate previous generations of struggle for a fairer society. From the Chartists to the Suffragettes and beyond, the fight for everyone to have a meaningful vote has been a cause close to the heart of this movement.

And so it is today. Just days away from the first ever UK-wide referendum allowing voters to choose how their representatives are elected, Yes campaigners joined up with the traditional May Day march setting out from Clerkenwell Green.

With figures from Tony Benn to Ken Livingstone all backing a Yes vote, along with official support from PCS and TSSA – who represent civil service and transport workers respectively – and many thousands more individual union members up and down the country, it is clear that the fight for fairer votes continues to resonate for the trade union movement today.

As Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) General Secretary Billy Hayes comments,

“many trade unions already use the AV system to elect their own leaders because it means the winner has to reach 50% to get elected and MPs should need that kind of support too…Trade unions should see this as an important first step in giving Parliament back to the people.”

Hugh Lanning also told us why he’s supporting Labour Yes:

“As a senior union official I understand the importance and value of being directly accountable to the membership, whether they voted for me or not. It’s only right therefore that our MPs should be made as accountable to the electorate as possible – AV will make MPs work harder for a greater number of their constituents. I therefore support the Yes campaign.”

But it’s not just about getting support from the union leaderships.  Labour Yes has made a point of speaking to union branches and listening to members: branches like the Plymouth and East Cornwall Amalgamated branch of the Communication Workers Union who are pleased to be recommending to our members that they Vote “Yes” to the alternative Vote in the forthcoming referendum.

Going beyond the national union’s position on AV,  the Central Committee of Plymouth and East Cornwall had no compunctions voting unanimously to actively recommend a “Yes” vote to it’s members.The branch have for some time actively campaigned within the CWU for electoral reform. Believing that it is necessary for a better political system and for a better Labour party.

Branch Secretary Tony Bouch explained.

“Too many of our local MPs are in safe seats. They don’t have to listen to their constituents and we have seen this in their behaviour. During our campaigns to “Keep the Post Public” too often we were not listened to.AV is a move that will make more MPs accountable to their constituents, and this means that working people and trade union members will have their voices heard in politics more.It is a question of what is fair, and what is right. Unions are all about fairness so this is why we are recommending a Yes vote”

Plymouth and East Cornwall Amal represents nearly 2000 postal workers across Royal Mail, Parcelforce and Post Office LTD in the South West of England.

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