UCATT general secretary, Alan Ritchie, has been ordered by the Certification Officer for Trade Unions to step down as leader of construction’s biggest union after his election in 2009 was declared void. UCATT has been ordered to conduct a re-run of that leadership race following a long campaign by his defeated rival, Mick Dooley. The election was declared void after it was found UCATT sent ballot papers to only 56,867 members – less than half of its claimed 130,000 membership. The turnout was still lower, with Ritchie defeating Dooley by 6,706 votes to 4,431.
Since launching his complaint against the election, Dooley, a full time officer in London region, is reported to been involved in constant disputes with the UCATT leadership and was sacked by the union earlier this year.
Certification officer David Cockburn is quoted by Construction Enquirer as saying:
In my judgement the election was so flawed as to be a nullity.”
In an earlier preliminary hearing, the Certification Officer had dismissed Mr Dooley’s complaints as being out of time, but in the final judgement, some of the key complaints were upheld and he made an enforcement order that
the UCATT 2009 General Secretary election be treated as void and that Mr Ritchie shall forthwith cease to hold office as General Secretary.”
Undoubtedly there will be support for a challenge to Mr Ritchie, such as from those involved in the website Builders United, and Mr Dooley may therefore be expected to stand. Given the circumstances, further arguments about procedure are a possibility!