Unite’s Commons reps upbeat after summit with PM on sex scandal

8th November, 2017 9:26 am

Unite has moved one step closer to winning formal recognition in parliament as trade unions met Theresa May to discuss new measures to tackle the Westminster sex scandal.

Britain’s largest union said the parliamentary branch’s unusual meeting with the Tory prime minister was “productive”. May had called in the unions last night, 24 hours after meeting party leaders to discuss a crackdown on sleaze and the introduction of better safeguards for people working for MPs and the Westminster authorities.

Last night the embattled prime minister met members from the Unite parliamentary branch, which represents MPs’ staff, and the Members’ and Peers’ Staff Association (Mapsa) following a week of allegations over politicians and senior staff behaving improperly towards their juniors.

Unite told the PM that the voices of staff must be better heard as the rules are redrawn amid the crisis.

“This was a productive meeting and the prime minister agreed to consider the branch’s call for formal union recognition,” said Max Freedman, parliamentary branch chair of the union.

“Unite also emphasised the need for the voice of staff to be amplified in the discussion of new processes and in eliminating the culture of bullying and harassment. We look forward to a positive response from our meeting.”

May said she wanted to hear the accounts of researchers in their own words.

“She feels it is important to get that first-hand sense of the current system,” her spokesman told Sky News before the meeting.

“We want people to feel they can be open and candid with the prime minister. Clearly we want to move forward on a cross-party basis. It will be helpful to inform that to talk to the actual staff.”

The meeting came in the week that author Owen Jones called on staff to join the Unite branch, saying on Twitter “they have your back and will fight your corner”.

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