Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

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...

    Unite the Union needs a new left

    With a resurgent right in the political wing of the labour movement, and a General Secretary election due to take place sooner rather than later in the giant union Unite, recent election results demonstrate the urgent need — and opportunity — for a regroupment of the genuine democratic left in the union. The results of the elections which closed on 18 June for the Executive Council (EC) of Unite were not good for the United Left (UL), once the dominant “Broad Left” in the union. In the 2017 EC elections there were contests in 28 of the constituencies (geographical, industrial, etc.)...

    "We need much more organised pressure on Starmer"

    Nurse, Unite activist and socialist Mark Boothroyd spoke to Sacha Ismail. What are the most important things for the left to argue and fight for in this crisis? How does the dominant labour movement response measure up? The labour movement needs to campaign for more extensive economic support, to expand the furlough and self-employed schemes, extend them to those not covered and so on. People need to be able to stay home and sustain themselves. Clearly sick pay and the right to self-isolate on fully pay are essential. The level of statutory sick pay is utterly scandalous, it needs to be raised...

    Section 44 in the civil service

    The National Executive Committee of the Public and Commercial Services union met on 13 May to discuss the union’s position on a potential back-to-work drive. This is an abridged and slighted edited version of a report published by an NEC member and supporter of the Independent Left network. The full version will be published on the Independent Left website. Our Independent Left proposals, built around how to respond in the worst-case scenario of a mass return to work, were as follows. It was broadly agreed that 1, 2, 4 and 5 were covered by the union’s actions and/or overtaken by events. 3...

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