Labour Conference Could Be 'Scuppered' As Security Firm Row Heats Up

Tim Hales/AP

Labour’s annual conference is again facing the possibility of being abandoned after a row over the event’s security.

The GMB today urged Labour not to use the security firm Showsec as its management was refusing to sign a union agreement.

Showsec are currently the only security company bidding for the contract, as Labour decided to boycott G4S - the company which has provided security for the annual conference for the past 20 years - over its links to Israel.

Labour’s ruling NEC were told last month that unless a security provider can be found, the Home Office could prevent the four-day event from taking place.

A party source said they were “confident” security would be in place for the conference, scheduled to be held in Liverpool from the 25th to the 29th September.

In a statement today the GMB’s national officer for the security industry, Roger Jenkins, 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.”

Labour’s NEC decided to cut ties with G4S last November after claims from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign that the company was linked to “Israeli prisons which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel”.

In a statement, Showsec said: “We were invited to tender for the security provision at the Labour Party conference, but at no point were we advised that signing a recognition agreement with the GMB Union was a stipulation of that tender.

“Showsec are not in a position to sign this recognition agreement due to corporate governance guidance, but contrary to some reports, we would like to make it clear that the company are not anti-unions in any way.

“We have, in fact, had a partnership agreement in place with GMB Union since 2004, but following discussions with the union in an attempt to find a resolution, they have advised us that this is no longer fit-for-purpose.

“We are disappointed that we presently find ourselves in this position.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “We do no comment on commercial arrangements.”

A source told the Huff Post UK that as it is a private event “any suggestion the Home Office could shut down annual conference is simply not true.”