Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/25395

Posted on 5 May 2017 at 17:56 GMT

After the Unite elections - now turn outwards!

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey addressing striking bus drivers in Oxford, 2.3.17, photo Nick Chaffey

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey addressing striking bus drivers in Oxford, 2.3.17, photo Nick Chaffey   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial organiser

The Unite general secretary and executive elections represent a defeat of the right-wing Blairite forces both inside the union and Labour. They must now be used as a platform to strengthen the left in Unite.

In addition, over the next month with his renewed mandate, Len McCluskey should put himself alongside Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in spearheading Labour's anti-austerity and pro-worker programme to take on Theresa May and the Tories. He should approach other leaders of unions, whether affiliated to Labour or not, to take Jeremy's "Workers' Charter" into the workplaces in a mass campaign over the heads of the Tory media, including organising rallies in towns and cities, to show workers the difference a Corbyn-led government would make to them and their families.

The Socialist Party supported Len's candidacy and campaigned for him to be re-elected in an energetic campaign that we believe had an effect. We argued that the Blairites and the capitalist establishment saw the Unite vote as the third Labour leadership election contest and were using all the means at their disposal - from the Financial Times to the Sun - to try to ensure a victory for the right-wing challenge from Gerard Coyne. Had they succeeded, Unite would have moved dramatically to the right, making it much harder for Unite members to take action in defence of their interests. Coyne's victory would also have been used to move against Jeremy Corbyn.

Warning on dividing the left

We warned Ian Allinson and the SWP who supported him that to stand in this particular election unnecessarily risked splitting the left vote and potentially would allow Gerard Coyne to win. This is what nearly happened and Ian Allinson and the SWP would have borne the responsibility for a defeat for the left.

Yet nowhere does Ian Allinson acknowledge this. Incredibly and without embarrassment, in an email to supporters, he says: "The announcement of Labour's 20-point plan to transform the workplace shows how right we are to back Jeremy Corbyn." However, a Coyne victory would have weakened Jeremy's leadership, even possibly opening the door to a late challenge in the opening few days of the General Election. It would have certainly emboldened the Blairites who are daily attacking and undermining Corbyn and McDonnell. As the Financial Times wrote in January as nominations opened, "If Mr McCluskey is replaced, the dynamics of the whole labour movement would shift".

While welcome, the election results do pose important questions for the left in the union. Learning the lessons of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership elections, we argued that Len should have launched a mass campaign of meetings and rallies.

Executive Council elections

The Socialist Party is part of United Left (UL) and four of our members stood on a fighting socialist programme on the UL slate for Unite's Executive Council. Suzanne Muna from the Unite LE/1111 housing workers' branch was re-elected on a strengthened mandate. The other SP candidates all stood for the first time. Jamie Cocozza, Kevin Bennett and Jimmy Tyson did very well but fell short of being elected, with Jimmy by only 38 votes.

United Left has lost some seats although it has retained a majority on the Executive. We believe that in particular, they should reach out to the new Executive members who identify with the construction rank and file who led the struggle against the Besna contract and blacklisting and voted to recommend Len. But the reduction in UL seats and the lower general secretary voting turnout does raise important issues for United Left and the union in general.

A visible, fighting union

United Left must turn outwards to the many fighting Unite reps and members who are increasingly being forced to take action to defend their jobs, pay and pensions such as the BMW and AWE workers. It should have a more visible presence in the union in between elections and should think about public meetings open to Unite members in this post-union election period. These must be on a fighting programme that reflects the more militant stance that Unite has taken under Len McCluskey and now has to be extended. While UL correctly supports Len, it must develop its own programme to further democratise the union by campaigning for measures such as elections of more senior officers and annual conferences.

This is a volatile period for the labour and trade union movement, which reflects the deep insecurity that faces workers. Theresa May's brazenly hypocritical attempt to style the Tories as the 'workers' party' is a recognition of her and the bosses' fear about the massive anger that is building up in the workplaces.

But that increasingly precarious character of work is itself a challenge to the unions. The tremendous struggles that have opened up of a new generation from the Deliveroo workers to Unite's own striking mixed fleet cabin crew show the potential. The defeat of Coyne opens the door to really build Unite into a mass militant union that can take on the employers and their political representatives.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 5 May 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Unite:

triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleWorkplace news in brief

triangleUnison attacks Barts deal after failing to ballot their members for strike action

triangleBin strike: council humiliated in court battle - but war isn't over yet

Election:

triangleNasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance

Union:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

Workers:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleTories torn - bin them now

SWP:

triangleTUSC: SWP suspends participation in England/Wales

Len McCluskey:

triangleAnti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

Suzanne Muna:

triangleName and shame the worst behaviour by housing associations

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2