GMB warns Labour conference could be scrapped over security wrangle
Labour's annual conference could be scrapped unless it finds a new firm to organise security for the event, a major trade union has warned.
In a dramatic statement, the GMB said the four-day event is at risk of being "scuppered" because the only firm in line for the contract refuses to recognise their members.
The party is due to gather in Liverpool from 25-29 September and is certain to be an angry affair in the wake of the Labour leadership contest.
Security for the annual conference has been handled by G4S for the the past 20 years. But Labour's ruling NEC decided last November to boycott the firm over its links to Israel.
Showsec are now the only company in the running to provide security at the event, but they are embroiled in a long-running dispute with the GMB.
The union is one of Labour's biggest financial backers and has called on party bosses not to use the firm.
Roger Jenkins, the GMB national officer for the security industry, said: "This is by no means sorted. We have repeatedly asked Showsec to agree to sign up to a standard recognition agreement that recognises GMB to negotiate pay and conditions, seeing its workers treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. The clock is ticking fast ahead of next month’s conference and the company’s continued refusal to recognise GMB is intolerable.
"Those employed in the private security industry must be allowed the choice to be represented by GMB - an independent, professional and forward-looking trade union working to better terms and conditions.
"If Showsec continues to show such disregard for unions then it has proven itself totally unsuited to the task of providing security for this event - and the Labour party leadership must immediately put an alternative in place to avoid the conference being scuppered."
It emerged last month that Labour general secretary Iain McNicol had been warned that the conference could be cancelled by the Home Office unless proper security was in place.
But a party source told PoliticsHome that was wrong - and insisted the event was not at risk.
"It's not true to say there is any suggestion the Home Office could shut down our conference," the source said.
"It's a private event and we work with the Home Office and the police to do a risk assessment. Ultimately, we are in no doubt that the conference will go ahead."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Jeremy Corbyn and several Shadow Cabinet members will attend an alternative event being organised by left-wing group Momentum to coincide with the Labour conference.
The 'World Transformed' festival will take place less than a mile from the conference venue and feature speeches by the party leader as well as his close allies John McDonnell, Clive Lewis and Diane Abbott.
Welcoming the event, Mr Corbyn said: "I’m going to be there, because I want to see a world transformed.
“All those people, with all those ideas, ambitions and energy, are going to be there as well. Come along and join us – you’ll have a great experience. Doing things together benefits us all, educates us all, makes us strong, and does change the world."
But critics said the event proved that Momentum was acting as a "party within a party".