Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/535/4171
Usdaw general secretary election: Members want democratic debate
Shopworkers' union Usdaw has announced that the election for general secretary will be held over the summer, when many of the branches are not meeting. This means there won't be the genuine debate that trade union democracy demands.
A London Usdaw member
The results will be declared in September, some seven months before current general secretary John Hannett finishes his five-year term in office. Usdaw's members should be asking why the election is being held so early and why there is no time to fully debate the issues in an open and honest manner.
At the end of 2008, the executive committee and president are up for election, so members should also be asking how much the union could save if the three elections were held at the same time.
Now we have two election periods which will divert resources away from the crucial organising and recruitment campaigns necessary to build our membership.
Rather than a restricted campaign period, there should be a full debate on the future direction of the union. This would help to improve turnout. At the last election just over 14% of the members voted, with John Hannett only receiving 6% support from the membership.
Is the summer election because John Hannett fears debating the issues in front of the members? If he loses, will he resign and move over or will he hang on until his term is up?
He has planned a tour of the country visiting key sites. Let's hope that the same facilities are offered to all the election candidates.
What is needed is a rule change to ensure that future elections are democratic, that there is a long enough period to allow the members to fully participate in the debate and importantly that they cannot be called at the whim of the general secretary.
In The Socialist 28 May 2008:
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party women
Youth and crime
Socialist Party feature
International socialist analysis
Socialist Party review
Socialist Party workplace news