Showsec strikes blow to Labour after GMB row

The controversy surrounding the Labour Party Conference continued this week after Showsec officially withdrew their provision for security at the event, which is due to take place in Livepool next month. The withdrawal comes after an email sent from GMB Union boss Tim Roache to Unite boss Len McCluskey was leaked to the press.

In the email, Roache said that he would “not allow a Labour party conference to take place with a security company that refuses to recognise GMB,” adding “If Showsec do not sign our standard agreement, GMB will be forced to boycott and picket the conference.”

Read more: Labour’s Liverpool Conference: desperately seeking security.

In a statement released on Friday, Showsec accused the GMB of making “speculative” and “defamatory” comments.

Showsec entered into a partnership agreement with the GMB in 2004 and insist that they are not “anti-unionist,” maintaining that they operate in their 3,500 employee’s best interests.

The controversial remarks made by Roache relates to the concerns of some 25 administrative employees at Showsec, in which they and the GMB could not agree terms.

Read the Showsec statement in full:

“The Board of Directors at Showsec has given careful consideration to the position we have found ourselves in over the past few weeks and, in light of there still being no resolution, we have taken the decision to withdraw the proposed provision of our services for the Labour Party Conference.

“As a company which puts the welfare of our staff ahead of commercial gain, we no longer consider the operating environment for our security delivery to be conducive to a positive experience for our staff, especially given the tone of some of the comments made by the GMB Union.

“As we have clearly stated previously, the Company [Showsec] have been transparent throughout the tender process in which, at no point, was it stipulated that we would have to sign a Recognition Agreement with the GMB Union. We were selected from that tender process on merit.

“We were also transparent throughout the subsequent discussions with the Labour Party and the GMB Union as far as our standpoint on union recognition was concerned.

“Showsec are not anti-unionist and we have a long-standing Partnership Agreement with the GMB Union which focuses on the best interests of our 3,500 casual staff. This was a ground-breaking approach we made to the GMB Union in 2004 and was a unique one for the security industry.

“The Recognition Agreement which the GMB Union wanted us to sign in this instance concerned approximately 25 administrative staff, but we could not agree to the terms in that agreement due to corporate governance restrictions from our parent company.

“While the GMB Union have not pro-actively engaged with us in relation to the Partnership Agreement, we did invite them to come and present to our staff groups as part of dialogue which took place between the two parties in an attempt to find a resolution.

“There has been no response from the GMB Union to that offer.

“Furthermore, we are disappointed with comments by the GMB Union in the press in relation to Showsec, which are speculative at best, and defamatory at worst.

“Following further consultation with the Labour Party in an attempt to find a resolution, it has been mutually agreed that it is difficult to find a pathway forwards. Therefore, we would like to wish the Labour Party every success with the upcoming conference.”

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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