By Karen Reissmann, Unison NEC (pc)
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2475

All out to build John Burgess’ left challenge for Unison union leader

This article is over 6 years, 3 months old
Issue 2475

We have an opportunity to win significant change in Unison and put up a real fight against the Tories.

Four candidates have received enough nominations to stand for Unison general secretary.

Incumbent Dave Prentis and head of local government Heather Wakefield are two candidates from the current leadership.

Members clearly want a change. Just a third of the branches that supported Prentis’s last bid to lead the union backed him. 

Wakefield has benefited from a feeling among many members that a woman should lead our union. But both are implicated in the failure to lead a fight against the Tories.

She is the face of the local government pay dispute—a special conference condemned the leadership for selling members short. 

Wakefield has not put us in a better position to coordinate action or challenge Labour council’s pushing through cuts.

But with the leadership split a united left candidate has a real chance. There are two left candidates—Barnet branch secretary John Burgess and Knowsley branch secretary Roger Bannister.

We should back John, who unites broad forces. 


He’s won the backing of big city branches, such as Manchester and Newcastle, who have never supported a left candidate.

John has helped lead the most relentless branch campaign against Tory privatisation in Barnet. 

Roger has called for talks between the 

“anti-Prentis candidates” to agree on a single one.

While a single candidate could beat Prentis we need a real socialist challenge, which Wakefield doesn’t represent. 

Most of the left backed John’s campaign after Roger’s supporters insisted he would stand, scuppering attempts to get a united left candidate. 

Roger should stand down and back John.   

Every activist can get behind John’s campaign by talking to workmates in Unison and helping leaflet workplaces. John’s campaign can lay the basis for a left organisation and strengthen the fight againt austerity. 

John4GenSec national launch meeting 
Sat 31 October from 1-4pm Room L67, Soas, London WC1H 0XG
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