Members of the Unite union met in Manchester last Saturday at a United Left meeting to select the left candidate for next year’s general secretary election.
Socialist Worker supporters were pressing for a single rank and file candidate prior to the meeting.
The overwhelming majority in the meeting selected Unite assistant general secretary Len McCluskey, who is a supporter of current joint general secretary Tony Woodley.
Jerry Hicks, a former Rolls Royce worker who won 40,000 votes for general secretary in the Amicus section of the union earlier this year, and his supporters walked out of the meeting following late rule changes.
These rules defined entry criteria based upon recognised membership of the United Left or its predecessor organisations, undermining the credibility of the meeting.
These were only introduced after Jerry Hicks and Rob Williams—who led a successful fight at the Linamar company—had said they will stand.
The changes prevented many people, including two former Visteon convenors, from attending as their application for “credentials” had been declined.
When the meeting began Jerry Hicks asked for the excluded people to be allowed entry. This was declined and Jerry led up to 30 supporters out of the meeting.
A proposal to allow all of those excluded and those who had walked out back into the meeting was then carried.
However, it was then ruled that those initially excluded would have no right to vote.
This made the decision to readmit those previously excluded farcical and Jerry again led his supporters out of the meeting.
The two remaining candidates addressed the meeting, with Rob stating that the exclusions meant that he could not give a guarantee that he would be bound by the decision of the meeting.
McCluskey won the vote with 170 to 49 votes.
Members face one of the biggest challenges for years as the bosses’ offensive hits every sector of our union.
Unite desperately needs leadership and a network of rank and file activists that gives expression to the anger of members and supports the developing resistance.