The battle for the general secretary of the 1.3 million- strong Unison union is on.
The nominating period runs until 1 April and balloting begins on 17 May.
The public sector faces massive attacks. But the record of current general secretary Dave Prentis inspires no confidence in his ability to lead a fightback.
The union nationally has devoted more effort to witch-hunting socialists than standing up to attacks from New Labour.
The need for a united candidate of the left could not be more pressing.
Three candidates have come forward – NEC members Paul Holmes and Roger Bannister, and Delroy Creary, secretary of Manchester Metropolitan University branch.
Unfortunately attempts initiated by the United Left in Unison have failed so far to produce one agreed candidate.
Socialist Worker supporters are calling for a nomination for Paul Holmes.
Paul is branch secretary of Kirklees Unison.
He has an outstanding record of building the union based on rank and file activity and resistance to employers’ attacks.
Paul’s branch led the call for a special conference on defending pensions in 2006. He is widely regarded as the candidate most feared by Unison’s bureaucracy.
His appeal to branches and activists beyond the existing organised left offers the opportunity to strengthen rank and file organisation in the union.
Candidates need at least 25 branch nominations to get on the ballot paper.
Every serious activist should also support the call for a national meeting of all the left on 3 April. This will be after nominations close but before the deadline for withdrawals.
The meeting should agree a single candidate of the left, based on demonstrable support through nominations.
We cannot afford to let a divided left campaign give Prentis an easy run.