Union elections

Understanding what was at stake in the GMB election

This discussion article has been sent to us by a group of GMB activists and officers who have worked with Workers’ Liberty. Dale Street’s article on the GMB General Secretary election (Solidarity 596) is testament to the author’s outstanding talent for missing the wood for the trees. To paraphrase Eric Morecambe: “He has all the right knowledge, but not necessarily in the right order”. To help Solidarity readers make sense of the GMB election we want to take a step back from the matters Dale focuses on and instead look at the big picture. The first point to grasp, is that for anyone in the GMB...

Unite: a critical vote for Sharon Graham

More on the Unite election here. Following discussion and voting in our caucus of members active in Unite and on our elected committees, Workers’ Liberty will support a vote for Sharon Graham in the election for general secretary of the Unite union, against Steve Turner and Gerard Coyne. Our position has developed over a number of months. A consistent thread has been an acknowledgment of the threat posed by right-wing candidate Gerard Coyne, whose model of conservative, officer-led, service-provision unionism would be a significant setback for Unite. Another consistent thread was a consensus...

Little choice in CWU election

Nominations in the posts and telecoms union CWU closed recently, providing further evidence of the sharp decline in the activist base within the organisation. Four National Officer posts saw candidates returned unopposed. That includes three that were vacant following the retirement of the previous incumbents. All the new occupants are drawn from the HQ bureaucracy. This is a sad state of affairs given that five-year elections were agreed by a conference, giving rank and file activists the opportunity to challenge incumbents who had previously been elected for life. Such challenges were a...

Unite ballot papers go out 5 July

For more on the Unite General Secretary election, see here. Ballot papers for general secretary of the big trade union Unite will be sent to members from 5 July. The three candidates are Steve Turner, Sharon Graham, and Gerard Coyne. A fourth candidate, Howard Beckett, has withdrawn and is now supporting Steve Turner. The election will be run on a First Past The Post basis. Gerard Coyne, a sacked former union official who ran against outgoing general secretary Len McCluskey in 2017, stands a real chance of winning. He won 53,544 votes to McCluskey’s 59,067 in 2017. Coyne is a right winger; his...

Back Martin Powell-Davies in NEU

Nominations close on 13 September for the newly created Deputy General Secretary role in the National Education Union (NEU). All three candidates already have at least 15 Districts, the number they need to ensure they are on the ballot paper. Martin Powell-Davies is the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) candidate. The ESN is a rank and file organisation fighting for a more democratic, militant and industrial union. Workers’ Liberty is centrally involved with the ESN. Gawain Little is the candidate of the mis-named “NEU Left”, the group that currently control the union. Gawain is also a long...

Left wins Unison NEC

The left has won control of the national executive committee (NEC) of public services union Unison for the first time since its formation in 1993. Left candidates took 41 of the 68 seats. The Time For Real Change slate, formed out of the campaign to back Paul Holmes for general secretary, and supported by Workers’ Liberty, took 37 seats. A further four were won by Socialist Party candidates. The Time for Real Change group said in a statement, “This majority for change on the Unison NEC must now enable a positive transformation of our union. We are determined to change Unison into a force that...

The threat from the right in Unite: Stop Coyne!

For more debate and discussion about the Unite General Secretary election, see here. Nominations for the Unite the Union General Secretary election closed last week. All four candidates secured enough branch or workplace nominations for a place on the ballot paper. The minimum number needed was 172. Howard Beckett (Head of Unite’s Legal Department) had 328. Gerard Coyne (Unite West Midlands Regional Secretary until his dismissal in 2017) had 196, Sharon Graham (Head of Unite’s Organising Department) 349, and Steve Turner (Unite Assistant General Secretary) 525. Coyne is the candidate of the...

Gary Smith wins GMB election

GMB Scottish Regional Secretary Gary Smith has been elected as the union’s new General Secretary. The election turnout was only 10.6%. But this marks an improvement on the 2019 election (8.5%), the 2015 election (4.2%), and earlier elections which were not even contested. Smith won a fraction more than 50% of the vote. Rehana Azam (right-wing full-timer) got 28%. Giovanna Holt (Senior Organiser, and only candidate with a proven track record of challenging GMB bullying and misogyny) got 22%. As Scottish Regional Secretary Smith has built a reputation for himself as someone prepared to take on...

Unite the Union deadline is 7 June

Two of the four candidates seeking election as the next General Secretary of Unite the Union have already won enough branch nominations (175) to get on the ballot paper. Branches can add nominations until 7 June. Voting will be between 5 July and 23 August. Sharon Graham, head of the union’s Organising Department, announced her 175th nomination on 25 May. On 29 May Howard Beckett, head of the union’s Legal Department, announced that he had 231 nominations. Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner, backed by the union’s United Left (UL), had just 120 nominations (as of a tweet on 26 May), while...

PCS: we still need to transform the union

On a woefully low turnout of just 7.5% of members the ruling Left Unity (LU) group has secured a comprehensive victory in the elections for the National Executive (NEC) of the PCS civil service workers’ union (results announced 14 May). PCS will continue to be run by the same LU faction that has failed the membership for 18 years, but now minus the Socialist Party which was for most of those years central to that leadership and its failings. For many years the LU leadership has presided over defeat and retreat. It has lurched from inertia to belated, poorly prepared campaigns that treated the...

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