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Left candidate wins general secretary election in GMB

Tim Roache & Jeremy CorbynThe result of the election to choose the General Secretary of the GMB to replace Sir Paul Kenny whose term of office expires at the end of 2015 has been announced. The winner is Tim Roache, currently GMB Regional Secretary for Yorkshire & North Derbyshire, who beat Paul McCarthy,Regional Secretary for the North West & Ireland by 15,034 votes (57%) to 11,454 (43%). Tim Roache is also chair of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class), of Yorkshire and Humber TUC and of his own CLP (Elmet and Rothwell). He is seen as to the left not only of Paul McCarthy but also of Paul Kenny.

Tim Roache said of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to TUC Congress just after being elected leader “in my 36 years working for a union I’ve never heard leader of the labour movement so utterly supportive of workers” and was also quoted as telling a fringe meeting at the recent Labour Party conference in Brighton:

No longer have we got a situation where it’s the party versus trade unions, it should never have been. Now It’s our day. And people like [Peter] Mandelson and [Tristram] Hunt… we don’t want you here. They want us to fail, be under no illusion.”

The turnout for the election was low, however, representing only 4.2% of the 625,643 members of the GMB declared at the end of 2014. In part, this is because the by-laws governing the election effectively ban any campaigning by candidates which clearly works against maximising turnout. In comparison, the turnout at the last Unite General Secretary election was 15.8% of its declared membership at the end of the previous year.


  1. James Martin says:

    I hope he will look to reverse the bureaucratic deadness of GMB structures which go a long way to explain such an appalling turnout. Branches barely exist, everything is run by full time officials and ‘rank and file’ is an alien concept. As a result GMB are slowly but surely being squeezed out of education, most recognition agreements in academies don’t even bother to mention them as there are no activists to raise it and the full timers are finding they are either too busy or just lack the local knowledge to intervene anymore, and I suspect this is repeated in other local authority and former local authority areas. But without lay activists it is hard to see how GMB would ever win a ballot under the latest Tory anti-TU laws.

  2. richard says:

    Excellent. Next we need Burgess to replace Prentis

  3. Andy Newman says:

    James Martins anti trade union comment has no connection with reality whatsoever.

    Perhaps James can expand on the comment that branches are run by full time officers?

    Outside of Northern Ireland, where there are historical reasons, this is very much exceptional in most of the country.

    The idea that GMB is being “squeezed out of education” is so utterly ridiculous that I wonder whether Mr Martin has been drinking the Koolaid.

    1. James Martin says:

      Andy, I know you are always seeming to write an open application to become a GMB official (not successful yet?), but I do speak as a GMB member for around 5 years. Prior to that due to various jobs I was in Unite, PCS/CPSA, Unison/Nupe and the NUR. I was a rep and branch officer in most of those, as well as being president of a trades council for a decade. Your claim that I am ‘anti-union’ is therefore laughable. But what I have learned from three decades of trade union activism is that GMB is the worst union in terms of activists I have ever been a member of (which given I’ve been a member of Unison is quite a feat). It is also the one where regional officials have the most power (including being able to close down branches). As to education (my own sector) the fact is in my direct experience GMB is disappearing from schools and academies at an alarming rate (at the benefit of Unite and Unison mainly) and that of the dozens of academy recognition agreements I’ve seen in the past couple of years in my region GMB is listed on only a tiny handful despite being part of the TUC academies model recognition agreement for the simple reason that without active branches at school/local authority level (because everything gets done by a regional official who never turns up) they are simply forgotten about (often because Unison and Unite branch activists who do actually turn up to the TUPE meetings prefer it that way). As I say, the highly top-down bureaucratic nature of the GMB will if it is not changed be its undoing.

  4. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    “The turnout for the election was low, however, representing only 4.2% of the 625,643 members of the GMB declared at the end of 2014?”

    Kind of says it all really and few things can demonstrate quite so clearly and quite so unambiguously just just how out of touch even with their own members the Trade Union Movement and the Labour party now are.

    That kind of turn out; whatever tired and lame excuses are being offered for it, (contrast it with the grassroots support for Corby despite similar obstacles and even greater hostility from the media,) is a joke.

    Democratic socialists these people are not.

  5. Chris Jones says:

    Well hopefully now that a left winger and Corbyn supporter has been elected, activism in the GMB will be regenerated.

    Great news.

    1. James Martin says:

      I hope so Chris. I tend to agree with a lot of Keith Henderson’s analysis of the bureaucratic deadness within GMB that reduces rank and file involvement to alarmingly low levels – – and it was a shame (but no surprise) he didn’t get enough nominations to get on the ballot paper. Keith some may recall is the former GMB full time official and Labour Party member who was sacked, and his Employment Tribunal decided that while his dismissal was fair, he had suffered direct discrimination and harassment because of his “left-wing democratic socialist beliefs” and awarded him damages. The ET said that his socialist beliefs did constitute a philosophical belief and was capable of protection under the Equality Act (always useful to remember!). GMB appealed and won on the basis that the attack on his beliefs was not a pattern of behaviour but within a single act (by Paul Kenny no less – no wonder he was made a lord!).

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