Labour’s First Minister today defended his government’s cosy relationship with the trade unions, ignoring his leader, Ed Miliband’s speech about reforming Labour’s trade union links.
It follows the publication of a leaked report from Unite, which says its relationship with the Welsh Government ‘would serve as a very satisfactory model for Westminster.’
Unite claims that 20 Assembly Members are affiliated to Unite, four of whom are key players in Carwyn Jones’ cabinet. Unite and Welsh Labour share a headquarters on Cathedral Road in Cardiff.
In the 2011 Assembly elections, Labour Assembly Members received more than £10,000 in financial sponsorship from Unite.
Last year, Welsh Conservatives revealed that the Welsh Government was employing 91 staff to undertake trade union activities on a full or part time basis.
Welsh Conservatives have previously revealed that Unite received £123,292.11 from the Welsh Labour Government in 2008/09 and 2009/10 from its funds intended to ‘build the capacity of trade unions’ and ‘improve policy making processes’.
Facing questions from Andrew RT Davies AM, Leader of the Opposition, the First Minister refused to back reform of the trade union links.
However one of his AMs, Jenny Rathbone called for reform of the relationship stating ‘no change is not an option.’
Andrew RT Davies said, “While Carwyn Jones is keeping the red flag flying, he is looking increasingly isolated as a defender of the narrow partisan interests of the trade unions.
“As First Minister, Carwyn Jones should be accountable to the voters of Wales, not to his trade union paymasters.
“There are very real concerns about the influence that trade unions wield over Labour policies, candidate selections and even internal leadership contests.
“Labour AMs consistently turn a blind eye to union-organised strikes, which cause massive inconvenience to ordinary hardworking families.
“Unite is very clear in its leaked report that it gets what it wants from Carwyn Jones’ government, suggesting a very subservient relationship.
“It is not healthy for the Welsh Government to be in the pocket of any narrow vested interest and I urge the First Minister to listen to the views of some of his own AMs who favour change after the recent scandals and reform his party’s trade union links.”