Unite

Strikes against Rolls-Royce reneging

In 2020, strikes by workers at the Rolls-Royce plant in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, forced the company to abandon a plan to offshore work and cut jobs at the site. Strikes have now resumed after the employer reneged on commitments. Ross Quinn, a regional officer for Unite, spoke to Solidarity. At the end of April, it was reported that a senior manager announced the training school, which was part of the settlement that ended the strike, guaranteeing future jobs at the site, would be demolished after two years. It was also reported that the company would essentially be reverting to the original...

Sharon Graham, Unite and “workers’ politics”

Workers' Liberty members and supporters in Unite the Union have not yet decided who to collectively support for Unite’s General Secretary. Debate and discussion on the election here. Unite General Secretary candidate Sharon Graham’s proposals for “a Workers’ Politics” point in the wrong direction. In many respects they are a regression from Unite’s current political strategy. The wider output from Graham’s campaign says little about political struggles and largely disparages political trade unionism in favour of “returning to the workplace”. She has denounced rival left candidate Steve Turner...

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...

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 A fourth candidate, Howard Beckett, has withdrawn and is now supporting Steve Turner.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...

Unite general secretary: Beckett pulls out

For more on the Unite General Secretary election, see here. On 18 June Howard Beckett pulled out of the contest for election as the next Unite the Union General Secretary. (Balloting begins on 5 July). Despite his posturing in recent months as the only candidate worthy of election, this was no surprise. Of the three left-of-centre candidates, Beckett got the lowest number of branch nominations (328). Nearly half (143) came from Scotland alone, thanks to the union’s Scottish bureaucracy and its "Progressive United Left Scotland" delivering nominations from a myriad of small and inactive...

Skwawkbox, Beckett and Waterloo

For more on the Unite General Secretary election, see here. One of the many benefits of the 18 June decision by Howard Beckett to withdraw from the Unite General Secretary contest was that it exposed – yet again – the abyss which separates the "investigative journalism" of the Skwawkbox website from mundane reality. For nearly a year Skwawkbox has propagated a narrative in which Beckett, a millionaire lawyer and charlatan-socialist, was a man of principle hated by the Establishment for his uncompromising commitment to class-struggle politics. At every stage the narrative combined factual...

Electricians win deskilling fight

A campaign of direct action by electricians in the construction industry has scored a major victory. Contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey are “permanently withdrawing” plans to introduce a new grade of electrician with lower training standards at the major Hinckley Point C (HPC) development. A letter announcing the bosses’ climbdown said the plans were scrapped “after Unite [union] raised concerns.” Those “concerns” were expressed in a campaign, taking place over several months, in which workers and their supporters mounted protests, including demonstrations and sit-ins, at sites connected...

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...

NHS pay: on the streets, 3 July

Within the next few weeks, the issue of NHS pay will be sharply back on the agenda. The NHS Pay Review Body (PRB) is due to make their recommendation on pay for England and Wales in “mid-June”. That will be followed by an offer from the government. After 18 months of the Covid response which has stretched NHS workers to their limits, proved fatal for over 800, and left many more physically and mentally scarred, the offer will certainly bring disappointment and anger. The immediate focus of campaigning is the well-timed day of action called by Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, NHS...

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...

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