GMB slashes Labour backing by £1m
A union that supported Ed Miliband's election as Labour leader has decided to cut its affiliation funds to the party from £1.2 million to £150,000 in the first fallout from controversial reforms.
The GMB said there will be further reductions in spending on Labour Party campaigns and initiatives, while other unions are now expected to consider scaling back their financial backing.
The decision by the 65-member GMB executive follows plans by Mr Miliband to give individual union members the choice of opting to join the party rather than being automatically affiliated.
There have been estimates that the change will cost Labour at least £9 million, a figure backed up by the GMB decision, although Labour said its biggest financial contribution comes from small donations and members.
The GMB has affiliated 420,000 of its members to Labour, at £3 per member per year, but that figure will be cut to 50,000 from January.
The union said in a statement: "The GMB central executive council (CEC) has voted to reduce its current levels of affiliation to the Labour Party from 420,000 to 50,000 from 2014. This will reduce the union's basic affiliation fee to Labour Party by £1.1 million per year. It is expected that there will further reductions in spending on Labour Party campaigns and initiatives.
"GMB CEC expressed considerable regret about the apparent lack of understanding the proposal mooted by Ed Miliband will have on the collective nature of trade union engagement with the Labour Party.
"A further source of considerable regret to the CEC is that the party that had been formed to represent the interest of working people in this country intends to end collective engagement of trade unions in the party they helped to form.
"The CEC also decided to scale down by one third the level of its national political fund."
Labour is planning to hold a special conference next spring to finalise details of the changes, which Mr Miliband announced following controversy over the selection of a candidate in Falkirk. Unite was accused of signing up members so it could influence the selection, although the union insisted it did nothing wrong.