Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

Mick Cash to retire: organise the rank and file!

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash has announced his retirement, only a year into his second term. The announcement was made during a chaotic Annual General Meeting, conducted online. Many delegates and union activists had criticised various aspects of AGM proceedings, including a decision by the union...

Some gains at NEU conference

The National Education Union (NEU) held an online Special Conference on 3 October. Over 600 people attended, with around 550 delegates. Conference voted on various rule changes. They were not taken as a job lot, as I wrongly reported in Solidarity 565. The rule change to allow the General Secretaries to extend their tenure beyond five years, if they had announced they were retiring, was withdrawn due to rank and file pressure. In a significant victory for the left of the union, the proposal to reduce the executive from 70 to 55 failed to get the two-thirds majority required, following strong...

RMT CFDU group launches

A group of activists in the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT) has launched a “Campaign for a Fighting, Democratic Union” (CFDU), which “fights for rank-and-file democracy and militant industrial strategies.” The CFDU name has been used by a number of previous similar initiatives in the union. This latest initiative has been launched in response to a burgeoning democratic crisis inside the union, which has seen General Secretary Mick Cash use official union communication channels to attack the lay National Executive Committee, and then refuse to carry out his...

The conflict in RMT

  • RMT must address mental health issues and bullying allegations
  • External investigation needed, but union must change itself
  • Genuine debate, criticism, and accountability is essential, and is not bullying
  • For a union led by members, through our lay representatives, not by officers
  • The National...
  • Beckett careerism splits United Left

    Howard Beckett (pictured, right), head of Unite the Union’s Legal Department, announced on 20 August that he will stand for election as the union’s General Secretary. In online hustings held in mid-July the millionaire solicitor had sought to win the backing of the United Left, the “Broad Left” in Unite. He lost to Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner (pictured, left). Beckett whinged that the vote had been marred by procedural deficiencies and irregularities, using the increasingly whacky Skawkbox website as his main media outlet. The United Left provided a detailed rebuttal of Beckett’s...

    Unite: run the contest now

    While Unite members face job losses and attacks on terms and conditions, General Secretary Len McCluskey and Head of the Legal Department Howard Beckett have a different priority: ensuring that the Beckett succeeds as General Secretary. In May McCluskey proposed to the chair and secretary of the United Left (UL), the “Broad Left” in Unite, that they hold hustings to select the UL candidate for the next General Secretary election. The UL has always functioned primarily as an election machine. But it got a low turnout in the 2017 General Secretary election and a miserable performance in the...

    Unison: opening out the choice

    The election for the general secretary position in public sector union Unison begins on 10 August. Branch nominations run from then until 25 September, and the vote from 28 October to 27 November, with results announced on 11 January 2021. Incumbent general secretary Dave Prentis, in office since 2001 and with a record of profound bureaucratic conservatism, will retire when his current term ends in December. Candidates require 25 branch nominations to make the ballot paper. So far, five candidates have formally declared their intention to stand, three of whom are currently unelected officials...

    How can we improve our union?

    Discussions amongst activists within RMT about the formation of new groupings aimed at transforming and improving the union are intensifying, against a backdrop of economic crisis and mounting attacks on RMT members' jobs, terms, and conditions.

    One new grouping has already been established, the...

    Strife in Unite

    The United Left, the dominant faction in the big Unite union, held a hustings and online ballot on 18 July to decide its nomination for the General Secretary election coming up, probably, in the next months as Len McCluskey retires. The nomination was won by Steve Turner, one of the union’s Assistant General Secretaries (AGS), with 370 votes against 367 for Howard Beckett (pictured), another AGS. The Labour left blog Skwawkbox, which supported Beckett, is agitating for a re-run with the claim that some Beckett supporters couldn’t get access to the online voting. Workers’ Liberty activists in...

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