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Jerry Hicks: building a network of fighters

This article is over 8 years, 9 months old
The Unite union’s general secretary election closes this week. There’s still time to vote, writes Dave Sewell
Issue 2348

Members of the Unite union have until Friday of this week to vote for their union’s general secretary. And rank and file candidate Jerry Hicks is calling on his supporters to campaign up until the last minute.

“We know that despite all our efforts 85 percent of members won’t have voted yet,” he told Socialist Worker. “And in a union the size of Unite that’s more than a million people.

“Wherever I go I meet workers who say they haven’t voted—but they haven’t thrown out their ballot paper either.”

Jerry’s campaign has seen him meeting ordinary workers across Britain. On Thursday of last week it took him to Hartlepool.

“I spoke at a meeting of the construction branch,” he said. 

“They were the first branch to nominate me and get the ball rolling, and I’m proud to say they’d all voted for me.

“So they took leaflets to redouble their efforts on site.

“Before that I’d been round the hospital to talk to the pathology workers, the maintenance workers and others who are in Unite. They’re losing £3,000 or £4,000. 

“Current general secretary Len McCluskey talks about defending the NHS but when are we going to do that? 

“For me, that would mean strikes.”


Jerry put out a call for all his supporters to talk to as many workers as possible before the ballot closes this Friday. 

“The other side have shown they’re worried about the votes we’ll get, and that should spur us on,” he said. 

“It’s also about the network we’re building. 

Every worker we talk to about the need for an alternative is a worker we’re in contact with for the future.”

Jerry spoke at a shop stewards meeting of coach manufacturers Alexander’s in Falkirk, Glasgow, on Monay of this week.

 It employs around 1,000 people. “We had a brilliant discussion about Labour and the anti-union laws,” said housing worker Dave Sherry.

Dave has been taking Jerry round the city’s workplaces.

“They don’t think that the union has been doing enough. 

“It needs to be controlled from the bottom up, to do more to take on government, and that’s why they nominated Jerry.


“But there were people who hadn’t voted yet, so we had to say how important it was to vote.”

Len McCluskey has been campaigning up to the last minute too—and not always on the most principled basis. 

Activists across Scotland were building for a demonstration against renewing Trident nuclear weapons. 

Meanwhile McCluskey was appealing to Labour to stand up for the lethal Vanguard submarines.

“It is important that there is commitment right across the political parties to retain our leading technological advantage in submarine design and build by delivering the replacement for Vanguard,” he told Unite members at the shipyard in Barrow.


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