Support is growing for Paul Holmes to be the next Unison union general secretary. Nominations for the post opened this week.
The election comes with the Tories in trouble over their mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic and with a growing economic crisis.
Workers are increasingly angry at the attacks we are facing. This is clearly shown by the inspiring Black Lives Matter movement and the revolt by health workers over pay in recent weeks. The present leadership of the union has failed to reflect the bitterness of members and lead an effective fightback.
Despite a rise in membership during the pandemic, the number of union activists is shrinking. Disgracefully, some Unison officials have told local branches not to support the NHS pay demos.
Two senior officials are standing for general secretary. Christina McAnea is a clear continuity candidate with the 20 years of Dave Prentis’ rule.
Roger McKenzie, the most senior black official in the union, is touted as a left candidate. But it is hard to see to see how someone who has been at the heart of the union machine throughout the last decade represents real change.
A third Unison-employed candidate is equalities officer Margaret Greer.
None of these offer real change Paul Holmes has secured the support of many union members because of his outstanding record as branch secretary of Kirklees Unison and on both the national executive and the local government executive.
A socialist and Labour Party member, Paul has shown in deeds not words a fighting, organising approach.
He has led disputes and built one of the strongest branches in Unison. He has tackled racism directly by, for example, organising strikes by bin workers to challenge racist bullying.
Action such as protests and strikes is crucial.
But a strong campaign for Paul will help to build the fighting union we need.