Socialist Worker

Unite: Vote for a fighting union

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2226

The fight for the general secretary of Unite, Britain’s biggest union with 1.3 million members, is hotting up as the election continues.

The media is presenting the contest as a two horse race between the left wing assistant general secretary, Len McCluskey, and the right wing assistant general secretary, Les Bayliss.

The Daily Mirror even ran a full page “Len vs Les” debate last week.

But the campaign of rank and file candidate Jerry Hicks can bust this cosy consensus.

He offers an alternative to the failed policies of the current union leadership, which McCluskey, Bayliss and the other candidate Gail Cartmail have all been part of.

Unite has not used its power and influence to challenge the bosses’ and government’s attacks.

Jerry’s message is winning wide support. “My branch nominated Jerry as we feel that we need someone in the leadership willing to take on the government,” said Julie Jones, the branch secretary of the community and youth

workers’ CYWU section of Unite in Staffordshire. “We are youth workers, and we are facing attacks across the country.

“We didn’t feel the other candidates have done enough, particularly in challenging the anti-union laws. We had personal experience of these when we went into dispute last year.

“By the time we’d dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ it was too late.

“People also liked the fact that Jerry will only take an average worker’s wage.

“We’re now campaigning among the wider membership in the branch, reminding people why we nominated Jerry.

“If the union was fighting for workers, there would be the potential to recruit far more people.

“The media sees this as a two horse race, as do many Unite members. The difference is that we think it’s between Jerry and Len McCluskey.”

Jerry and his supporters are campaigning hard across the country and will continue to do so until the election ends on 19 November.

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Article information

Tue 2 Nov 2010, 18:06 GMT
Issue No. 2226
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