Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

Unison: opening out the choice

The election for the general secretary position in public sector union Unison begins on 10 August. Branch nominations run from then until 25 September, and the vote from 28 October to 27 November, with results announced on 11 January 2021. Incumbent general secretary Dave Prentis, in office since 2001 and with a record of profound bureaucratic conservatism, will retire when his current term ends in December. Candidates require 25 branch nominations to make the ballot paper. So far, five candidates have formally declared their intention to stand, three of whom are currently unelected officials...

How can we improve our union?

Discussions amongst activists within RMT about the formation of new groupings aimed at transforming and improving the union are intensifying, against a backdrop of economic crisis and mounting attacks on RMT members' jobs, terms, and conditions.

One new grouping has already been established, the...

Strife in Unite

The United Left, the dominant faction in the big Unite union, held a hustings and online ballot on 18 July to decide its nomination for the General Secretary election coming up, probably, in the next months as Len McCluskey retires. The nomination was won by Steve Turner, one of the union’s Assistant General Secretaries (AGS), with 370 votes against 367 for Howard Beckett (pictured), another AGS. The Labour left blog Skwawkbox, which supported Beckett, is agitating for a re-run with the claim that some Beckett supporters couldn’t get access to the online voting. Workers’ Liberty activists in...

Unite the Union needs a new left

With a resurgent right in the political wing of the labour movement, and a General Secretary election due to take place sooner rather than later in the giant union Unite, recent election results demonstrate the urgent need — and opportunity — for a regroupment of the genuine democratic left in the union. The results of the elections which closed on 18 June for the Executive Council (EC) of Unite were not good for the United Left (UL), once the dominant “Broad Left” in the union. In the 2017 EC elections there were contests in 28 of the constituencies (geographical, industrial, etc.)...

"We need much more organised pressure on Starmer"

Nurse, Unite activist and socialist Mark Boothroyd spoke to Sacha Ismail. What are the most important things for the left to argue and fight for in this crisis? How does the dominant labour movement response measure up? The labour movement needs to campaign for more extensive economic support, to expand the furlough and self-employed schemes, extend them to those not covered and so on. People need to be able to stay home and sustain themselves. Clearly sick pay and the right to self-isolate on fully pay are essential. The level of statutory sick pay is utterly scandalous, it needs to be raised...

Section 44 in the civil service

The National Executive Committee of the Public and Commercial Services union met on 13 May to discuss the union’s position on a potential back-to-work drive. This is an abridged and slighted edited version of a report published by an NEC member and supporter of the Independent Left network. The full version will be published on the Independent Left website. Our Independent Left proposals, built around how to respond in the worst-case scenario of a mass return to work, were as follows. It was broadly agreed that 1, 2, 4 and 5 were covered by the union’s actions and/or overtaken by events. 3...

Sorting out the left in UCU

As UCU members in higher education prepare to strike — action begins on 20 February — voting is underway in both HE and FE sectors of the union for members of the National Executive Committee and a new Vice-President. The VP election sees a contest between the two long-standing union factions, UCU Left (dominated by the SWP) and the Independent Broad Left (on the right). Margot Hill, the left candidate, is Branch Secretary at Croydon College and has recently led local strikes over pay and conditions. Janet Farrar, her opponent, has no such track record. It was a surprise to many activists...

Vote Tracy in the NEU!

The election for the Support Staff sector seat on the executive of the NEU is now running and will close on 2 December. The candidate for the rank-and-file Education Solidarity Network is Workers’ Liberty supporter Tracy McGuire. She is supported by many militant support staff, including the Durham Teaching Assistants’ Value Us campaign. Tracy says: Support staff should be treated as equal citizens in our Union. That means the NEU fighting for the right to represent and negotiate on behalf of our support staff members at every level. The union should campaign for national pay arrangements for...

Three candidates, one rank and file

The election campaign for PCS general secretary has now started, and runs until 12 December. Before it started, the union closed down the members’ Facebook page, leaving only the main union Facebook page, administered by head office staff. That page has churned out a weekly, sometimes daily, stream of videos of the current general secretary, Mark Serwotka, holding forth on various issues. Closing down a potential forum for debate, and using the union’s official platforms for blatant electioneering, do not reflect well on Serwotka’s campaign for re-election. Bev Laidlaw is standing as the...

Vote Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary

PCS has been run by a “broad left” alliance, made up of the Left Unity grouping working with some more right-wing elements, for over 15 years. In that time, after an initial increase, membership has haemorrhaged. In all major government departments, membership has fallen by between 10-50%. The “broad left” narrative is essentially that, if you elect a “left-wing” leadership, you can simply put your trust in them and everything else will fall into place. The dominance of this narrative has led to a decline in workplace activism and militancy, and a decline in density across all bargaining units...

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