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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973

Rank and File Disenfranchised

Rank and File Disenfranchised

Many branch delegates were annoyed at seeing unionists like Jones throwing their voting strength around. This antipathy arose not from anti-union feeling but because of the nature of union re-presentation at Labour Party Conferences. In the main union delegates are elected, or appointed, not by the rank and file but by union executives. As a consequence most of the union delegates are union officials. With Communists and Socialist Unity Party members automatically excluded under the Labour Party Constitution, almost all the unionists who rise to positions of power in the party do so because of faithful service to the parliamentary leadership, and their union's voting strength.

Although some right-wing trade union leaders felt threatened by the academics' moves to streamline the party it was obvious that they will enjoy a privileged place in Labour's industrial relations policy. In his address to the conference Labour Minister Hugh Watt stressed the need for unity between the party and the trade union movement in solving industrial problems. He was later supported by Tom Skinner who pointed out metaphorically that a bird which doesn't fly on both wings has trouble keeping on an even keel.