Conference serves notice on Labour

Delegates to BECTU's Annual Conference have voted to ballot members on the union's link with Labour.

A proposition calling for research into alternative political organisations which could pursue union interests in Parliament, as well as a ballot on continued affiliation to the Labour Party, was today supported by 61% of branch votes at the conference in Eastbourne.

Inside the BECTU 2003 Conference
Branch delegates meet at BECTU's Eastbourne Conference.
The vote overturned a recommendation from the union's leadership to maintain BECTU's current level affiliation to Labour, which had already been reduced from fees representing 11,000 members to 8,000 by the union's National Executive Committee.

BECTU will now begin an examination of political parties and individuals who could be offered as an alternative voice to Labour, but remains affiliated to the party until a future ballot of members decides whether or not to cut the link.

In the debate at Eastbourne, critics of the union's Labour affiliation accused the party of ignoring the interests of union members, and some expressed concern about changes to the broadcasting industry being pushed through by the government in the Communications Bill, due to pass through the House of Lords in the next month.

A separate proposition, accepted unanimously by the conference, condemned the continuing reduction in regional TV programme-making which delegates believed could be accelerated by the new Ofcom regulator created by the Bill. A meeting of BECTU's NEC on June 1 will set a timetable for implementation of today's decision.

BECTU, the UK union covering technical, production, and support staff across the entertainment industries, was formed in 1991 by the merger of BETA and ACTT, two unions which had long been associated with the Labour Party.

17 May 2003