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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 July 2002

Simpson Puts Spoke In Right-Wing Machine

LEFT-WINGER Derek Simpson has beaten Tony Blair's union poodle Sir Ken Jackson for the leadership of Amicus-AEEU trade union by 406 votes. He polled 89,521 to Jackson's 89,115 on the fourth re-count.

Mick Cotter, Amicus-MSF National Craft Committee, London Region MM

The narrowness of the vote in no way reflects the scale of victory that this election represents. The deck was heavily stacked against Simpson from the day the election started.

Firstly in order to stand he had to resign from his full time officers' position. Throughout the election the Jackson camp (ab)used the union apparatus with a zeal that saw one union official being disciplined and countless allegations of vote rigging against others.

Simpson campaigned for opposition to PFI, privatisation and partnership deals and in favour of union membership democracy, including the right to elect full-time officials.

This is a union that over the years, through mergers and bureaucratic manoeuvres, has concentrated power in the hands of the general secretary (Jackson). It was run in the interests of the leadership, not the membership.

Jackson has been at the forefront supporting most of New Labour's anti-worker plans for PPP/PFI and has frequently interfered with other unions' business when they opposed these plans.

Under Jackson, AEEU also welcomed millionaire ex-Tory Sean Woodward, now New Labour MP for St Helens-with-Butler, into AEEU membership.

He is also a member, along with other blasts from the AEEU past like Lords Jordan and Chapple as well as Barry Reamsbottom and Marion Chambers of the PCS union, of a NATO-linked committee called the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding.

Understanding what? Certainly not the needs of their members. A recent circular from the committee director gives you a clue, urging support for Jackson in Amicus and Reamsbottom's 'moderate' grouping in the PCS executive elections.

The Socialist has reported how these moderates in effect organised a coup cancelling the democratic election of left-winger Mark Serwotka and re-installed Reamsbottom as general secretary of PCS.

This was even though Reamsbottom was unable to secure the required nominations to stand in the original election.

The election of Derek Simpson is certainly a victory for the Left, and a big blow for the Blairites.

How far he goes in challenging Blair's agenda remains to be seen, but coupled with mounting anger from rank and file trade unionists in the public sector including the Fire Brigades Union, against poverty pay, along with the rail and tube workers taking action on a range of issues, this could be a long hot summer for New Labour.

The High Court action challenging Barry Reamsbottom's attempted coup in the PCS is still proceeding, with a judgement not likely before 26 July. More information is available from

"I'm Just So Happy"

THIS IS like Kim-il Sung losing an election in North Korea. I can't believe it - I just thought it was hopeless to beat the right-wing machine.

Steve Hoare, Amicus-AEEU section convenor, Carnaud Metal Box, Sutton-in-Ashfield, personal capacity

Every shop steward got letters from their national and regional officers backing Jackson. They had access to the mailing lists, that was denied to Derek Simpson. Everything in the machine was against him.

But in a lot of factories everybody has been fed up with the union. There's a big gulf now between the top of the union and the bottom. Most shop stewards campaigned for Simpson. There have been a lot of job losses in places like Vauxhalls and Rover. All those members still have votes.

I first met Derek Simpson 20 years ago. He's a genuine guy who risked everything to stand in the election. Everyone here was disgusted that Jackson wouldn't accept the result. And why was the election returning officer a paid member of the union?

Now we've got to make sure we support Derek to defeat the right-wing machine. The full-time officials who've been appointed should have to stand for election. It's been 'jobs for the boys' and it's got to change.

Crafts members at my factory have just voted 67:6 (with 10 on holiday) to reject the company pay offer. I can't overestimate the importance of the national election. I never thought it would happen and I'm just so happy.

Don't Hold Back, Say What You Mean!

DURING JACKSON'S tortuous departure, Daily Mirror columnist Paul Routledge launched a vicious attack on the Amicus-AEEU right wing.

He described them as: "The corrupt filth in the union" who "cannot live with the verdict of the members."

Referring to the print workers' battles in the 1980s, he calls their attempt to overturn the ballot result: "The dying bad breath of the dirty work fusiliers who provided scab labour to Murdoch's strike-breaking move to Wapping."

He concludes: "They are not fit to be called trade unionists. They cannot be allowed to triumph now."

Lets hope he keeps up this support for union democracy.

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In The Socialist 26 July 2002:

'We're Striking Against Low Pay'

Stock market panic: Make The Bosses Pay!

A Turning Point In The Struggle

A New Party Is Needed

Mass Action Against Low Pay And Privatisation

1972 - The Summer Of Discontent

Simpson Puts Spoke In Right-Wing Machine


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