Unions snub Labor MPs

SITTING Labor politicians are being snubbed by the party's traditional union backers as campaigning ramps up just six weeks out from polling date. 

ALP Tasmanian secretary John Dowling said yesterday that more unions were getting involved than the 2010 election campaign, but  The Examiner  understands most are choosing to back individual new candidates rather than Labor MPs fighting to hang on to their seats.

 The Examiner  also understands major unions will play an unusually low-key role in the campaign.

The Community and Public Sector Union, which is not affiliated with the party, and the Health and Community Sector Union said incumbent Labor MPs were paying for a broken promise not to reduce job security for their members. 

``They were told at the time that would impact any support they got at the next election, and that hasn't changed,'' CPSU secretary Tom Lynch said. 

With polling consistently showing Labor is facing a crushing defeat on March 15, the decision of unions to desert incumbent Labor MPs will hurt.

``It's going to be a struggle for a number of sitting members, and that would have been a little bit easier perhaps with more support,'' Mr Lynch said.  

A union source, who did not want to be named, said the last-minute split with the Greens had also had an impact on manpower. 

``How long it took to formally break with the Greens and how grudgingly that was done, I think a lot of people will say `I'm not putting the effort in'.''

HACSU, which is an affiliated union, is still finalising who it will support, but secretary Tim Jacobson indicated donations will be well down on previous years. 

``Everyone's doing it tough at the moment and at the end of the day, while politics is a very important issue for our members, we need to make sure the industrial relations service we provide is strong.''

Premier Lara Giddings will feel the brunt of the snub with suggestions that she will have less volunteers at her disposal than first-time Labor candidates standing in the same electorate.

Fellow Labor Franklin MP David O'Byrne is somewhat of an exception with his strong background in the union movement earning him personal support from unions including United Voice and the United Firefighters Union. 

Mr Dowling refuted claims that the party was receiving less union support than other election campaigns. 

``No one has reported any issue in terms of gathering volunteers,'' Mr Dowling said. ``There are a number of unions actively supporting a number of candidates.''

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