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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 14:36 GMT
'Challenge Labour' call to unions
Tony Woodley
Woodley says Labour must return to representing working people
A major summit of union leaders should be called to mount "the biggest coordinated challenge" against Labour, a candidate for the leadership of one of the UK's biggest union has said.

Tony Woodley, deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, argued the party had been "hijacked" and was now seriously adrift over major union concerns.

He told a news conference in London on Tuesday he was happy to be a member of the so-called awkward squad of union leaders because it was now time to fight back against New Labour.

It is about fighting back to reclaim our party and put Labour back into the party
Tony Woodley
"If elected I will call for a summit of affiliated unions to discuss how to get Labour back representing working people," he said.

Among the issues Mr Woodley said were now dividing Labour and the unions were pensions, the minimum wage and corporate killing laws.

He did not want to break the historic link between Labour and the unions, but he would expect MPs who received financial help to follow union policies more closely.

That call is likely to spark anger among ministers: John Prescott was among those who resigned from the RMT union when it threatened to cut their funding if they did not back its stance on key issues.

'Fighting back'

Mr Woodley said Labour was out of touch with its core voters, pointing to a pensions crisis, a poor minimum wage and laws which allowed bosses to "sack people over the phone".

He said passing resolutions at conferences urging the repeal of anti-union laws was not enough.

"It is about fighting back to reclaim our party and put Labour back into the party," continued Mr Woodley.

"Tony Blair is so blind to what he has done, he cannot see the wood for the trees."

As he set out his platform for the TGWU election, Mr Woodley said he would ensure the union pressed for real improvements in the workplace, rather than making concessions such as increased flexibility.

The other three candidates in the leadership election, which is expected to conclude in May, are: Jack Dromey, Jimmy Elsby and Barry Camfield.

Prescott defends quitting union
30 Jun 02 |  Politics
Union laws 'need review'
29 Jan 02 |  Politics

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