Around 130 Unison union activists attended a left unity meeting in Manchester last Saturday to discuss campaigning and to organise a united left challenge at forthcoming union elections.
It was the biggest left meeting outside a Unison conference for years.
It agreed to build maximum solidarity with the NHS strikes, the anti-racist demos on 21 March and to prepare for the special local government conference over pay on 24 March.
The failures of the current Unison leadership mean there is a space for a strong left challenge in forthcoming union elections.
But the left needs to be united. A good number of candidates have been agreed for executive seats.
Three NEC members put themselves forward as general secretary candidates.
They were Roger Bannister, Knowsley branch secretary and Socialist Party (SP) member, Paul Holmes, Kirklees branch secretary and Labour Party member and Karen Reissmann, Bolton Health branch activist and SWP member.
All three addressed the meeting and there were then calls for a vote between them.
Unfortunately the SP stated that their members would not vote and instead argued for a form of consensus.
In the discussion many stressed that Karen is the only woman candidate in a union that is 82 percent women, and a health activist at the centre of the NHS fight.
The meeting then took a vote with 61 voting for Karen, 15 for Paul, none for Roger and 41 abstentions.
It is still worth fighting for a single left candidate for general secretary. There will be further discussions on this.