The general secretary election in the Unite union is revealing members’ anger at the leadership’s failure to lead a fightback against the attacks workers face.
Branches and workplaces are currently nominating candidates to stand in the October election.
Left wing candidate Jerry Hicks, a victimised former Rolls Royce worker, is picking up wide support.
“I had three rewarding days in the north west of England last week,” Jerry told Socialist Worker. “During those days I took part in a candidates’ debate in Leigh, visited three bus depots and a number of factories, and also spoke at branch meetings.
“The Leigh branch nominated me the day after the hustings. The Greater Manchester IT and Tameside branches also both backed me.”
The other three candidates—right winger Les Bayliss, Gail Cartmail and left winger Len McCluskey—all have full-time positions in the union machine.
Jerry’s message of putting the rank and file first is winning a hearing.
Jerry said, “There is a mix of anger and vulnerability among Unite members, and a feeling that there is a void between the leadership and the members.
“When I visit factories, it doesn’t surprise me when members say they don’t recognise me. But they say they don’t know the other candidates either—and they are one step off the top job.
“They should be known for being at the heart of the fightback.”
Derek Simpson, Unite’s joint general secretary, said that strikes against government attacks would only deflect attention away from who was to blame for the cuts.
Speaking last weekend, he added that protests were unlikely to happen as British people “don’t have the volatile nature of the French or the Greeks”.
Jerry said, “This shows just how far from the class Simpson is—with his wages, lifestyle and political ideas.
“His statements are not true and should be denounced. Why don’t the other senior officers criticise him when he comes out with these statements?”
Activists in the union should be ensuring that their next branch or workplace meeting discusses backing Jerry Hicks—he needs 50 nominations to be on the ballot paper.
They must be received by the union by the end of this month.