SUPPORTERS of Derek Simpson, the left challenger for the leadership of the AEEU section of the Amicus union, have campaigned vigorously this week. The ballot for the AEEU leadership started on Monday of this week, and closes on 12 July.
Sir Ken Jackson, the current AEEU general secretary and Blair's favourite union leader, has been worried about the growing support for Simpson. In Scotland last week Simpson supporters leafleted AEEU members in factories and workplaces. They included the three British Aerospace Ferranti plants, Faslane, all the hospitals in Edinburgh, and the two Rolls-Royce plants in East Kilbride and Hillington.
Campaigners, including members of the Scottish Socialist Party, are making sure workplaces outside the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are also covered. In Manchester Simpson supporters leafleted AEEU members in the city, including those in bus garages, the Rolls-Royce plant, British Aerospace, and universities and hospitals.
Jerry Hicks is the AEEU convenor for Rolls-Royce Test Areas in Bristol and deputy chair of the union branch's central committee. He toured workplaces in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Bristol with the union secretary of the works' committee at Rolls-Royce and Derek Simpson for two days this week.
Jerry said, 'We went to four factories on Monday-Rank Xerox, Arjo engineering plant, Dupont and Godwin Pumps. We also dropped off leaflets to AEEU stewards at four other factories. In some places we saw two or three union stewards, in others there were a dozen. In the bigger factories more stewards are meeting us.'
They had another packed schedule planned for Tuesday. Leafleting British Aerospace workers, meeting Rolls-Royce stewards, and visiting other workplaces were on the list. Jerry said, 'The stewards all agreed to support Derek. Many of them said their officials told them not to have Derek in the plant. The officials presented him as a demon who wants to go back to the 'dark days' of strikes in the 1970s. Jackson is now claiming that the merger between the AEEU and MSF, which the AEEU spent £1 million promoting, is so dangerous that he is the only man who can see it through. Union members are raising many issues they are angry about. It's PFI, privatisation and 'partnership' with the bosses. These are all things Jackson supports.'
Phone Derek's campaign on 07803 922 096 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org