Unite shop stewards urge members to back Owen Smith

In a letter to Unite members, 29 trade union officials are urging a vote for Owen Smith in the upcoming Labour leadership election.

The letter reads:

Britain needs a Labour Government to defend jobs, industry and skills and to promote strong trade unions. As convenors and shop stewards in the manufacturing, defence, aerospace and energy sectors we believe that Owen Smith is the best candidate to lead the Labour Party in opposition and in government.

Owen has made clear his support for the industries we work in. He has spelt out his vision for an industrial strategy which supports great British businesses: investing in infrastructure, research and development, skills and training. He has set out ways to back British industry with new procurement rules to protect jobs and contracts from being outsourced to the lowest bidder. He has demanded a seat at the table during the Brexit negotiations to defend trade union and workers’ rights. Defending manufacturing jobs threatened by Brexit must be at the forefront of the negotiations. He has called for the final deal to be put to the British people via a second referendum or at a general election.

But Owen has also talked about the issues which affect our families and our communities. Investing £60 billion extra over 5 years in the NHS funded through new taxes on the wealthiest. Building 300,000 new homes a year over 5 years, half of which should be social housing. Investing in Sure Start schemes by scrapping the charitable status of private schools. That’s why we are backing Owen.

The Labour Party is at a crossroads. We cannot ignore reality – we need to be radical but we also need to be credible – capable of winning the support of the British people. We need an effective Opposition and we need a Labour Government to put policies into practice that will defend our members’ and their families’ interests. That’s why we are backing Owen.

Steve Hibbert, Convenor Rolls Royce, Derby
Howard Turner, Senior Steward, Walter Frank & Sons Limited
Danny Coleman, Branch Secretary, GE Aviation, Wales
Karl Daly, Deputy Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Nigel Stott, Convenor, BASSA, British Airways
John Brough, Works Convenor, Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick
John Bennett, Site Convenor, Babcock Marine, Devonport, Plymouth
Kevin Langford, Mechanical Convenor, Babcock, Devonport, Plymouth
John McAllister, Convenor, Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services
Garry Andrews, Works Convenor, Rolls Royce, Sunderland
Steve Froggatt, Deputy Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Jim McGivern, Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Alan Bird, Chairman & Senior Rep, Rolls Royce, Derby
Raymond Duguid, Convenor, Babcock, Rosyth
Steve Duke, Senior Staff Rep, Rolls Royce, Barnoldswick
Paul Welsh, Works Convenor, Brush Electrical Machines, Loughborough
Bob Holmes, Manual Convenor, BAE Systems, Warton, Lancs
Simon Hemmings, Staff Convenor, Rolls Royce, Derby
Mick Forbes, Works Convenor, GKN, Birmingham
Ian Bestwick, Chief Negotiator, Rolls Royce Submarines, Derby
Mark Barron, Senior Staff Rep, Pallion, Sunderland
Ian Hodgkison, Chief Negotiator, PCO, Rolls Royce
Joe O’Gorman, Convenor, BAE Systems, Maritime Services, Portsmouth
Azza Samms, Manual Workers Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Dave Thompson, Staff Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Tim Griffiths, Convenor, BAE Systems Submarines, Barrow
Paul Blake, Convenor, Princess Yachts, Plymouth
Steve Jones, Convenor, Rolls Royce, Bristol
Colin Gosling, Senior Rep, Siemens Traffic Solutions, Poole

15 comments on “Unite shop stewards urge members to back Owen Smith

  1. Of course, we know what this is really all about don’t we. Potential loss of Trident and shrinking defence contracts down the line if Corbyn wins and at some point a left wing Labour Party gains power. They’re far too dishonest to mention this of course.

    How many Unite officials back Corbyn compared with this rag tag bunch of short sighted mugs providing cover to the Labour Right?

  2. Highly skilled engineers and technicians have provided the backbone for both the left and communist movement and the right wing, principally in the engineering union.

    Progressives in that union have alway’s had to deal with the potential for right wing opportunism that arises when groups of workers become highly dependent on the relatively high levels of pay available when the public purse is at the disposal of the big aero space and armaments firms.

    At the same time armaments workers know just how precarious their jobs are, especially when the dominance of the US in the imperialist alliance can lead to contracts being awarded to US firms under political pressure.

    Similarly, they know that much of their work finishes up in imperial wars or exported to corrupt and repressive states like Saudi Arabia and we should not underestimate the moral revulsion felt by workers whose jobs and family security, not to mention their location in places like Barrow, mean they have little alternative opportunities to sell their highly skilled labour.

    A good analogy lies in what should be the correct attitude to migrant workers or, for that matter, DWP staff. We don’t like the conditions that compel workers to follow a particular course of action but we blame the system not the workers and work to change the material conditions in which people seek and find work.

    There is a big political job entailed in separating out those elements who are incorrigibly attached to war spending and those who can be won to understand that a more secure future lies in productive investment in alternative industries and technologies.

  3. #4 What Jeremy was saying here is equally spot on.

    And the response of the Unite rep quoted reflects how progressive politics has to be conducted.

    Not through preaching and denunciation but through patient informed dialogue and persuasion within the working class.

    That’s how we will win

  4. jim mclean on said:

    The Unions that support Corbyn are simply defending their jobs, as are these guys. In the real world outside the iron rice bowl 84% of the working class are not Trade Union Members, 84%. As for the GMB / UNITE situation and the manoeuvres of Len McCluskey Labour will now have a conference staffed by non union zero hour contract workers. If we could not help the GMB members who would have been doing the conference we are all piss and wind. If the GMB members decide to picket conference it will be interesting.

  5. Owen Smith has also set out his willingness to kill millions of innocent people.

    Andrew Marr: The nuclear deterrent (sic) only works of course if the Prime
    Minister of the day is prepared to press the button and annihilate
    possibly millions of people. As Prime Minister, would you press the
    button under certain circumstances?

    Owen Smith: You’ve got to be prepared to say yes to that, Andrew.


    Vote for Corbyn!

  6. ‘Not through preaching and denunciation but through patient informed dialogue and persuasion within the working class.’

    Generally, of course, this is correct. But Corbyn has made his points about this quite clear on numerous occasions and yet these officials still insist on ignoring this. Their support for Smith is support from a utterly sectional, reactionary viewpoint. The modern version of the National Union of Hangmen and Cock Fighting Organisers railing about their job losses, except the future of the planet is what’s at stake now.

  7. John Grimshaw on said:

    There should not be on the part of socialists a presumption that unions by virtue of their being in existence, are radical. Over the years some unions have been deeply reactionary, or sections thereof, or leaderships. I was thinking of the EETPU for example. Some of the unions that have represented well trained workers over the years have been highly sectarian. If NACODs had backed the miners strike we might very well not be having this discussion for another example. I accept Nick’s point about working patiently with the arms workers but given our limited penetration especially in those areas both ideologically and physically (think about the security) I doubt there’s much we can do for the moment.