Union elections

Unite: run the contest now

While Unite members face job losses and attacks on terms and conditions, General Secretary Len McCluskey and Head of the Legal Department Howard Beckett have a different priority: ensuring that the Beckett succeeds as General Secretary. In May McCluskey proposed to the chair and secretary of the United Left (UL), the “Broad Left” in Unite, that they hold hustings to select the UL candidate for the next General Secretary election. The UL has always functioned primarily as an election machine. But it got a low turnout in the 2017 General Secretary election and a miserable performance in the...

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...

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.)...

Vote Independent Left in PCS!

Elections for the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the civil service union PCS and for important departmental committees will soon be underway (nominations close 12 March, balloting will run from 16 April to 7 May). Three sets of candidates will be standing: the PCS Independent Left (IL), Left Unity (LU), and the Broad Left Network (BLN). The IL, which includes Workers’ Liberty, currently has three members on the NEC and successfully campaigned in 2019 for the election of long standing PCS activist John Moloney as Assistant General Secretary (AGS) on the basis of a workers’ candidate on a...

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...

A national contract for all school workers

By Tracy McGuire I’ve just been elected to the support-staff place on the Executive of the National Education Union, in a by-election. My first priority is unionising as many school support staff as possible into the NEU. Especially with the election, there are going to be cuts to schools and job losses for support staff. We need campaigns. We need more support-staff reps, and not just as reps for support staff. At present the NEU has a support staff conference, but it is entitled only to put one motion to the national union conference. [The system was inherited from the ATL, the union that...

Industrial news in brief

Lewisham members of the National Education Union (NEU) in primary schools are to take part in an indicative ballot over boycotting high stakes testing. The ballot will run from 6 January for two weeks. There will be two questions on the ballot, one about “action short of strike” (i.e. the question about the boycott) and a second asking members if they will strike in the event of victimisation of members who take part. The ballot information summarises the boycott as follows: “Leadership and teacher members will refuse to administer the year 2 SATs, the year 6 SATs, the phonics test and the...

Tracy wins in NEU

Workers’ Liberty supporter Tracy McGuire has won the by-election for support staff rep on the National Education Union’s national executive. In a three-way election, Tracy won 1,200 votes, 53%, with the rest split almost evenly between the two other candidates. However, the turnout was, at 2270, only 7.7%. Tracy, a teaching assistant in Darlington with a strong profile in the local labour movement, ran a campaign focused on workplace and industrial issues for support staff – but also raising wider questions including Brexit and migrants’ rights. As we understand it she was also the only one of...

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...

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