Affiliation means that the unions pay an affiliation fee to the Labour Party; in return, they and their members receive the privileges of affiliated membership. Unions select twelve of the thirty-two members of the Labour National Executive Committee and elect fifty per cent of the delegates to Labour Party Conference. In many cases, local union branches also affiliate to Constituency Labour Parties and their members who are also individual members of the Party may represent the Union as delegates on Labour Party structures.
Members of the unions may opt out of the affiliation, so that the member is not allowed to take part in any Labour Party ballots (such as the leadership election) in which other members of the affiliated union are involved.
Since 1994, affiliated trade unions have organised themselves into TULO - The Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation, with a small number of staff to manage the relationship between the unions and the Party. A national TULO committee, with the unions' general secretaries, the Party Leader and Deputy Leader, General Secretary and NEC Chair and MPs' representatives, meets regularly to co-ordinate work and policy.
The General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) represents its members, seven of the smaller unions, on many of the committees if they cannot send a delegate.
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