Sunday 2 November 2008

Runners & Riders in the UNITE-Amicus General Secretary election

Nominations are now open for the election for a UNITE Joint General Secretary from the Amicus section, for a 1-year term of office from 23rd December 2009 to 23rd December 2010.

As I've previously pointed out, this is an election we could have done without. Indeed, on the UNITE Executive Council I voted against the rule changes that brought it about. However, the decision was taken so we now need to ensure the outcome is as beneficial to members as possible.

There are four candidates who have declared:
1) Derek Simpson, the incumbent.
2) Jerry Hicks
3) Laurence Faircloth, who is backed by Amicus Unity Gazette, the broad left grouping
4) Kevin Coyne

I'll be trying to ensure my branch nominates Laurence, who was selected as the left candidate at an open national meeting of the Amicus Unity Gazette yesterday. Neither Jerry nor Derek sought support from the left.

I supported Derek in his original election campaign, and have absolutely no regrets about doing so. It was a significant step forward for our union at the time. However, time has moved on, and so have the issues and the individuals. I believe Derek is now obstructing the integration process for the sake of influence over the more important election for General Secretary Designate, which will take place during 2010. The original argument for Derek staying on to 66 was to help with continuity with the merger. What we're seeing now is the exact opposite. In a context where jobs are being lost by the thousand, I don't think "everything in UNITE is fine - carry on" is a good argument.

Kevin is the Regional Secretary for the North-West. He is very capable, which is reflected in his professional web site and campaign. However, he has always been closely identified with the right-wing in the union, and moving even closer to New Labour doesn't really seem the best plan at the moment!

Derek recently broke from Amicus Unity Gazette to launch a new right-wing faction in the union called the "Workers Uniting Group", bringing together his close allies with those who had always been openly on the right, including Kevin. Personal ambition from both Derek and Kevin seems to have exceeded their commitment to their new political project, as they are standing against each other.

Jerry was a courageous fighter on behalf of his members, who was victimised by Rolls Royce. I would agree with many of the points Jerry makes in his election address. Unfortunately, Jerry has become increasingly out of touch since his victimisation, which must have contributed to bad decisions such as launching a court case against his own union. To make our union better, we need change at every level, not just one person at the top.

Laurence is currently the Regional Secretary for the South-West. He was briefly the Regional Secretary in my own region - the North-West, where he proved to be a very capable officer. He was only selected as the left candidate on Saturday, so there is relatively little material out about his campaign yet. At the meeting he confirmed that he was standing on the basis of Gazette policies, such as:

  • A more vigorous response to the economic crisis, in particular fighting job losses
  • Support for election of officers and increased accountability to the lay-member structures of the union
  • Stopping the unconditional handing over vast sums centrally to the Labour Party, in favour of making contributions regionally so that the union can ensure we are supporting those who support us
As well as his blog, there is also a Facebook group for Laurence's campaign.


Ian said...

Is Paul Reuter also seeking nominations?

Someone has tried to post an anonymous comment suggesting that he is. The anonymous post also included personal information. I can find no information online to corroborate the claim.

Paul is the National Officer for the "Federation of Professional Associations" or FPA.

Ian said...

I've had another anonymous comment saying Paul is standing and giving a lot more detail.

If this is genuine, it appears he wants nominations, but doesn't want to say he does.

The comment provides what really looks like an election address etc, which I'm not putting on my own site, as I'm not supporting Paul. If he wants a web site - he can set up his own!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian,

thank you for your constructive comments, I have noted the content and I shall forward your comments onto Paul for his perusal in due course.

However, in the meantime you may wish to note that Paul is the National Officer for CMA (Royal Mail/IT) and Steel, a point which I thought you may be interested in...

You have a great website and I thought that you may have wanted to update your article on the "Runners & Riders..."

I accept that you will only be supporting LF, let's hope that he doesn't pull out of the race...

Keep smiling...

Anonymous said...

Paul Reuter is now actively seeking nominations. Paul has had his eye on the GS job for two years at least now.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that your candidate has stated on his "blog" that "all of us need to take the rights up of all pensioner groups..."

So does that also include the right to work beyond the age of 65?

Keep smiling...

Ian said...

Anonymous - a witty comment but misdirected. I opposed both the court case and the rule change that brought about this election.

Once the court case forced the issue, in my opinion the best thing FOR THE MEMBERS would have been for Derek to step down at 65, already having enjoyed an extended term of office without facing re-election. We could then have got on with the merger more quickly than originally planned.

Derek wouldn't accept that, so we're faced with an election for a one-year term of office.

We have to make the best of a bad situation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ian, hope you are well?

You can now update your article on "Runners & Riders...", because Paul Reuter does have an online blog, it can be found at

Anonymous said...

See Complaint to Certification Officer is withdrawn...What happens now?

Ian said...

That's the original complaint which led to the election. As the election is being held, it is no longer relevant.

At least one other complaint has gone in since the election was called. I hope we don't get even more bogged down in legal wrangling!

Anonymous said...

What is this other complaint? What is the EC's view of it?

Ian said...

The complaint is long and complicated but seems to boil down to the idea that the EC exceeded its powers in making the changes to hold this election.

The EC has not taken a view on it, but was assured that the legal advice is that what the EC did was legal.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Simpson has 280 nominations, Coyne has 220, Hicks has 80, and Faircloth has only just got enough to run? If so, so much for Wiseman's comments about a two horse race between Coyne and Faircloth...!

Ian said...

The nominations are now out and published on the Amicus web site.

Both Laurence and Jerry comfortably got enough nominations to run.

What is more worrying is the very large number of nominations for right-winger Kevin Coyne.

Anonymous said...

Ian, it's not worrying as nominations do not win elections. Simpson had 94 last time, whilst Jackson had 351. Not all of the candidates entered the race at the same time, but with the ones that did, you posted a link to their sites which would have assisted them in the nomination process. All of the candidates are on the ballot form, all have a chance of winning, including the one that you always seem to overlook, as in your last comment i.e. Mr Paul Reuter

Keep smiling...