Members of the Unison union have voted to re-elect Dave Prentis as their general secretary. Prentis won 76 percent of the vote. The two left wing challengers for the leadership, Jon Rogers and Roger Bannister, won 8 and 17 percent of the vote respectively.
The chair of Tower Hamlets local government Unison, John McLoughlin, told Socialist Worker, “Prentis won, and increased his share of the vote, after running a campaign in which he talked left. He spoke about taking on New Labour over pensions and over other issues.”
Prentis was widely expected to win the contest after being nominated by 524 branches of the union.
The Unison United Left candidate, Jon Rogers, expressed disappointment at his result. He said, “Dave’s campaign was effective in mobilising widespread support for an incumbent general secretary who is widely and correctly perceived as being to the left of New Labour.
“There is no doubt that the great majority of those who have supported Dave Prentis want him to lead an energetic campaign in defence of public service pensions against the New Labour government. The role of all left wingers in the union must be to help to ensure that this happens.”
Roger Bannister, who also challenged Prentis from the left, was able to win a bigger section of the vote.
He had established himself as a candidate having contested the position of general secretary on several previous occasions.
John McLoughlin summed up the challenges facing the left in the union, “Prentis talks about standing up to Labour and about working with them to win concessions.
“But his strategy will very quickly be put to the test. New Labour has shown no sign of wanting to work with the trade unions. And they will be even tougher once the general election is out of the way.
“We have to concentrate on the coming strike over pensions — building a campaign in every single workplace. In a few weeks the United Left will be contesting the union’s national executive elections — where there is everything to play for.”