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McCluskey on course for another 5 years

In the week in which Unite branches have received nomination papers for the Unite General Secretary election, it is clear that Len McCluskey is on course to win another five year term and has broad backing right across the union.

The much weakened right of the union, who would have mounted a challenge to Len or his United Left-backed successor candidate in 2015 had the election not been brought forward, appear unlikely challenge Len. The Amicus-originating elements of the Left who organise within Unite Now, in spite of some misgivings, are backing Len. Assistant General Secretary, Gail Cartmail, who stood against Len last time, is backing him. As are most of the Left outside Labour, including the Socialist Party and Counterfire.

The only dissent comes from Jerry Hicks, former AEU convenor at Rolls Royce in Bristol, who won 22% of the votes last time around (roughly half as many as Len McCluskey) but is likely to get fewer this time as some of his erstwhile supporters have been won round by Len’s record in office. He is clearly running an anti-Labour Party campaign, or electoral support to Labour until it has agreed to back all of Unite’s policies. He also backs the election of all full-time officials which would be certain to undermine lay-member democracy in the union. The only organised backing he has comes from the SWP (a party he left in 2007), although even their backing is highly contentious and has caused Frank Wood, Unite Executive Council member for Health, to renounced his membership of the SWP to back Len.

As a member of Unite, I hope all readers of this blog who are members of Unite will get their branches to nominate Len (Branch NW/567 – No 1121). Download the United Left leaflet supporting Len hereNomination forms should have been sent to branches by 7 January. Unite branches need to have a meeting between now and 15 February. If you have not received nomination papers at the branch, then e-mail elections@unitetheunion.org. As United Left argue, Len’s achievements as a Left General Secretary can be summarised as follows:

  • Real leadership in the fight against austerity – UNITE’s message is clear: “no to all cuts-don’t make workers pay for the crisis”
  • Very rapid progress to consolidate the merger
  • Real progress in branch reorganisation to      create workplace branches
  • Genuine empowerment to members with the branch as the base
  • Harmonized branch funding implemented to all properly constituted branches
  • £25M dispute fund set up
  • Leverage strategy developed and now major resources devoted to further work
  • A genuine fighting back strategy that is seeing real wins for UNITE workers when they take strike action
  • Community membership introduced – a first in the union movement
  • 50,000 new members from a relaunched 100% campaign
  • Plans for a new conference/training centre in Birmingham city centre
  • A real fightback in the Labour Party with a brand new UNITE political strategy – no more blank cheques!
  • A culture of openness, tolerance and democracy throughout the union
  • New ecoms strategy giving UNITE the best website and member contact in the union movement
  • Membership data systems overhauled and simplified
  • No repudiations of any dispute since Len took office
  • Root and branch review started of every UNITE department to make it “fit for purpose”
  • New impetus to our international work -developing a fighting back organising strategy in all the Global Union Federations
  • Ending the TGWU/AMICUS divide and genuinely uniting our new UNITE Union
  • 3 Comments

    1. Rob the cripple says:

      Well yes good choice to get my vote, sadly I’m in the GMB.

      But hope he walks it.

    2. Mike says:

      Please explain how the election of full-time officials would “be certain to” undermine lay-member democracy? Is this your view of the demand in all unions, or just Unite?

      1. Jon Lansman says:

        In Unite, Jerry Hicks argues for the election of all officials by members – in accordance with the AEU tradition from which he comes. This is counterposed to the strong lay-representative democratic tradition of the TGWU which United Left promotes. I think in any circumstances a directly-elected full-time official is likely to be less responsive to lay elected representative structures than an appointed full time official which is why I used the words I did. I certainly do favour, in the circumstances of Unite, strong lay representative democracy. I wouldn’t argue that there’s a “right model” in all circumstances – the structure of the industries and workplaces in which unions organise make a difference, as does the relative roles of lay representatives/shop stewards/convenors versus full time officials. The appointment of full-time officials may well ensure that the competency of officers is better protected, but exactly who hires and fires is of course crucial to the accountability of the officers.

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