On Tuesday - May Day - the T&G and Amicus formally joined together to form a new union, Unite.
As part of the launch, the new union issued membership card no.1 for its London region to ... erm ... let's think ... a worker? a lifelong trade unionist? a shop steward? a member at the forefront of fighting their employer?
No. Ken Livingstone. A scab. The man who urged RMT members to cross their own union's picket line in 2004.
Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley, defying all reasonable definitions of, erm, truth, commented that "Ken Livingstone has been a firm friend of trade unionism all his life and has put employees' rights and conditions centre-stage as Mayor of London." His fellow Joint General Secretary Derek Simpson shared his delusion, adding: "The mayor has been at the forefront of fighting against poverty pay and for decent public services in London. No-one more deserves our first membership card in the capital". This is according to the Morning Star, which of course shares Tony and Derek's rose-tinted view of Blue Ken. I'm wondering whether the word 'Joint' in their title refers to something you would have to smoke in order to bring on such hallucinations.
Of course, there is one area in which Ken has most certainly eliminated poverty pay - amongst his own advisers and the upper reaches of TfL, where it is now common to "earn" more than £100k per year. Fattest of the fat cats is Bob Kiley, struggling by on a mere £737,000 for doing virtually bugger-all. But amongst Tube cleaners - working for employers contracted via Infracos by Ken's very own TfL - poverty pay is still rampart, and Livignstone, despite fine words, has done nothing about it.
"No-one more deserves our first membership card in the capital"?! Surely that would only be true if you were setting up the National Union of Fat Cats, Fake Lefts and Scabs.
Hit tip: Jim D
Perhaps it also shows how hard it is for union bureaucrats to let go of illusions in people they thought were 'left wing' despite the contrary evidence being right in their faces. Or perhaps it just doesn't take much to impress a union bureaucrat - so long as you are 'high up'.