Sunday 21 November 2010

UNITE General Secretary election result (provisional)

Despite the fact that the result won't be declared until Wednesday's Executive Council meeting, and there being nothing on the union web site, the media are already starting to report the result.

As I understand it, there's no official report from the Independent Scrutineer yet, only a preliminary report.

It currently looks like the result will be:

  1. Len McCluskey, 101,000 votes (42%)
  2. Jerry Hicks, 53,000 votes (22%)
  3. Les Bayliss, 47,000 votes (19%)
  4. Gail Cartmail, 39,000 votes (16%)
If the final result matches this, I think it is a great result for those of us who want to see UNITE as a union vigorously standing up for its members and against the cuts. Len McCluskey, backed by United Left (the broad left grouping in UNITE) would have a decisive win, while the two left candidates, Len & Jerry, would have got over two thirds of the vote between them.

However, the poor turnout (16%) is a worrying sign of the lack of engagement of members with the union.

It is particularly good to see Jerry beating Les Bayliss. A lot of people underestimated the mood of the members and assumed that he would trail behind Les Bayliss, given the backing Les had from the right of the union, the Tory press and Derek Simpson. In fact, Bayliss's disgraceful and well-funded campaign appears to have secured him only a third place with 19% of the vote.

Let's see what the official result is on Wednesday.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

UNITE Education course dates 2011

If working people are going to be successful in defending ourselves against the onslaught on jobs, pay, pensions, conditions and the welfare state being unleashed by the Tories, Liberal Democrats and employers, we urgently need more union reps in more workplaces, and we need to ensure they have the skills and confidence to do their jobs effectively.

The union web site now has the dates for UNITE education courses in 2011. Don't be put off by the URL, which still says 2010 - the new dates are there. If you've not had reps' training, get some. If you have, encourage someone else to get trained.

Reps are the backbone of the union - without them there can be no effective union organisation.

Unity against the Tory attacks on the jobless

Much of the public debate about the Tories' proposals to force jobless people to work for nothing has missed the point. It has concentrated on whether or not this will "help" people who are out of work get the hang of how to work. But of course the Tories and their Lib Dem stooges couldn't care two hoots for the unemployed - that's not what it's about.

The reason why there are more people out of work now than a couple of years ago is not down to a sudden loss of the "work ethic" by poor people, a pandemic of laziness, or an increase in the appeal of trying to scrape by on a pittance. It is because employers decided to cut millions of jobs and we largely failed to stop them.

While we havejobless people who are desperate for a job and unable to get one, why should any of us complain if there's a small minority who aren't? They're giving those that are keen to work a better chance.

And of course that's a clue as to why the Tories are really proposing all these attacks on people relying on state benefits. This cabinet of millionaires wants to increase profits for themselves and their mates by driving down wages for people in work. And the more people who are desperately competing for every job, the easier that will be.

That's why it's vital that none of us fall for the divide-and-rule arguments pumped out by the Tories and their friends in the media, trying to encourage those of us lucky enough to be in employment to blame those who aren't. Instead we need to recognise that every campaign to defend state benefits is a campaign to protect our job security and our pay and conditions. We need unity against the cuts, not scapegoating of the poorest in society.

I'm delighted that the Right To Work campaign has produced a petition against this work-for-nothing scheme. It should be used in workplaces, not just amongst the unemployed.

Friday 5 November 2010

JGS report from September UNITE Executive Council

The Joint General Secretaries' report from the UNITE Executive Council (EC) meeting on 20-22 September 2010 is now available. As usual, I will forward it to UNITE members on request.

The official minutes of that meeting won't be approved until the next meeting (indeed the draft isn't out yet) but previous minutes are available on the union web site.