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Labour’s Clive Lewis accuses nuclear unions of being ‘voice for big business’ via The Guardian

Corbyn ally says unions are failing to speak up for renewable energy because they do not have members in that sector

An ally of Jeremy Corbyn has claimed trade unions that are involved in the nuclear industry have become “a voice for big business” because they have been weakened in other sectors.

Clive Lewis, the former shadow secretary of state for energy, singled out GMB for being too close to the nuclear lobby and said it was not speaking up for renewable energy because it did not have members there. He also questioned why unions “fight to the bitter end” for the arms industry.

His comments reflect tensions within the Labour movement over union support for nuclear power and a nuclear deterrent. GMB, Unite and Prospect have tens of thousands of members in the nuclear and arms industries. Corbyn has called for a “nuclear-free world”.

Lewis told a fringe event on energy at Labour’s conference in Brighton: “One of the problems with where trade unions are at the moment is that they have been so weakened that I think they have become, and have been used by big business as, a voice for big business.

[…]

“On nuclear, yes, GMB and other unions are staunchly supporting it because the jobs there generate union members. Contrast that to the highly self-employed solar sector: the unions have no trade unions there. They are not speaking up at all for them.”

He said unions had thrown their weight behind plans for Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear power plant to be built in the UK for 20 years.

“That is one of the reasons that a big song and dance and hoo-ha about solar wasn’t made by the unions and yet they are getting staunchly behind Hinkley,” Lewis said.

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