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Unison and POA get behind Corbyn

Trade union members give re-election campaign a boost

JEREMY CORBYN’S re-election campaign gathered strength yesterday as he received a huge vote of confidence from grassroots Unison members.

The giant union, which represents 1.3 million public-service workers, said it was nominating Mr Corbyn for the leadership after a consultation with more than 20,000 members who have registered to vote in the contest.

Mr Corbyn won a majority in every region of the union and nationwide he gained the support of 58.1 per cent (10,698) of voting Unison members, compared to 41.9 per cent (7,720) for challenger Owen Smith.

He received a setback on Wednesday when general union GMB, which remained neutral in last year’s contest, backed Mr Smith. But he has since received endorsements from Unite and Unison, Britain’s two biggest unions.

Mr Corbyn said: “I am proud to have the support of Unison members. Their incredible work, against the backdrop of cuts, privatisation and outsourcing of public services, keeps the services we all rely on running — from the NHS to local government.

“We need a Labour Party that gives them a voice, that halts and reverses the cuts, privatisation and outsourcing that are ripping Britain’s communities and services apart.

“Our plan to rebuild and transform Britain so that no-one and nowhere is left behind will restore dignity, jobs and quality to our public services.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis gave less than wholehearted support for Mr Corbyn in his statement explaining the union’s decision.

He said: “Jeremy Corbyn retains the backing of a majority of Unison’s Labour-supporting members. That’s why the committee supported his nomination again.

“However, a significant minority backed Owen Smith. Their views will always be respected in our union — that’s our proud tradition.”

He said it was healthy for people to hold different views on the direction of the party but blasted “toxic” abuse and warned against “witch-hunts against MPs, councillors and party staff.

“Labour is in danger of becoming the new ‘nasty party’ if this behaviour continues unchecked,” the Unison leader said.

Mr Corbyn also received support yesterday from the Prison Officers Association, which is not affiliated to the party.

General secretary Steve Gillan said: “Jeremy Corbyn has always supported this trade union over the years in restoration of trade union rights, in being opposed to privatisation of prisons and reducing our pension age.

“He has been consistent with this union, that is why the NEC, which would not normally get involved in leadership contests, are content to endorse him.”

Mr Corbyn continues his campaign today with a rally in Sunderland, before heading south again to meet supporters in Milton Keynes tomorrow.


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