There was a time when the Unions and the Labour party were hand in hand but those days seem to be quickly disappearing, especially in Scotland. Could the time be close when the Unions have to seriously think about breaking its ties with the Labour party and forging its own future? After all, the Trade Union political activists of the 1800s were first sponsored by the Liberal party to stand for seats. The Labour party sprang from the political needs of the Unions at the time and managed, in its early days, to further the causes of the working classes and instigate institutions in the UK that fundamentally changed the conditions in the way that working class people were forced to work. As the working classes became more affluent the Labour party had to shift its political policies slightly to the right to keep in step with their core voters. In doing so they abandoned the other working classes to the scrapheap who, through no fault of their own, were now non-working classes. There are whole generations of families who have never seen work and, if current policies continue, never will see work. They are ignored by the Unions because they pay no Union dues, ignored by the government because they don't care, as long as they don't riot, and ignored by the Labour party because their votes are more or less guaranteed, in England and Wales.
So, the Unions have no political, moral conscience when it comes to the long term unemployed which, even though contrary to their initial ideas of socialism for the masses, in reality, is not their concern. Their concern should be for the members of their respective Unions. However, in the past, we have seen horrendous situations were the Union leaders were taking undemocratic steps to follow a purely political agenda at the expense of their members' wishes and needs. It would have to be stressed that at that time the Unions, and the Labour party, were deeply infested with 5th columnists from the old USSR whose ultimate agenda was world domination by destroying the capitalist system from within. The question that needs to be asked is: "Do the Unions need the Labour party or the Labour party need the Unions?". I think the later is the correct of the two because the Unions are the paymasters.
The old needs for the Unions have gone as their political off-shoot, the Labour party, managed to achieve a fair number of their goals. So what should be the role of the Unions now? Evidently their primary function is to look after the needs of their members. Their members no longer need to fight for free education, free NHS, free school meals for poor children. Those battles have been won. There is a wider view of Unions that should be explored with regards to the EU. Too many countries are welcoming immigrants with one hand and on the other moaning to their own citizens about their inability to do anything about it because of EU rules. Decide for yourself which countries in the EU do this. The answer, but not just now, is to have EU wide Unions that can level the pay for tradesmen all over the EU. If a member country goes through a financially difficult period then their trades people can travel to any other part of the EU knowing that they will receive the same wages as their mother country. These are the things that the Unions should be heading to. They should also get out of this mind-set that there is a them and us attitude. Fair enough, the same could be said for the management side. If the company they work for shuts down then everyone loses. It should be incumbent upon Unions to help the company to survive and flourish; not try and grab everything it can.
So, can the Unions politically afford to dump the labour party and move on? I believe they can. The idea that a Union 's only concern is for the welfare of its members within a wider capitalist structure is fundamental to their current aims and, in some cases, survival. The Unions have had too bad a press in recent years and doesn't seem to be able to get over to its potential members the benefits that a Union can give them. There are many, many people who are in the Unions but do not support the Labour party. The Unions will have to, eventually, realise this and change their allegiance back to their membership by dumping the Labour party and forging new links with all who would support their aims.
But I'm not holding my breath for that one. The Unions are a good idea but the way in which they are being run is far too political. Released from it political obligations then I can see the Unions returning to their original function whichwas to look after their members wishes and needs.