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Amicus Unity Gazette left with egg on its face
The nomination period in the general secretary election in the Amicus section of Unite has now closed and the election has immediately descended into something of a farce.
Mick Cotter, Amicus/Unite
The election was called following a challenge made by sacked and victimised Rolls-Royce convenor Jerry Hicks to the trade union certification officer. The challenge was that the rules drawn up when Unite was formed should not have allowed Derek Simpson, the current Amicus general secretary, to stay in office beyond his 65th birthday without further election.
Two candidates emerged competing for the left's support. Laurence Faircloth, the south-west regional secretary, eventually won the support of the Amicus Unity Gazette group ['broad left'].
Socialist Party members questioned his left credentials and were suspicious as to his motivation at the time; in fact the only guide to his political activity was that he was formerly a candidate on the executive committee slate of ex right-wing general secretary Sir Ken Jackson.
Despite this, two groupings ensured Faircloth's nomination. Firstly the north-west region Gazette, the region that hosts the national meetings, and secondly the Socialist Workers Party who shamefully supported Faircloth because of their sectarian hostility to the other left candidate Jerry Hicks. Hicks recently resigned from the SWP to remain with the Respect Renewal organisation.
Faircloth has now withdrawn from the contest and put his support behind Derek Simpson, ridiculously claiming that the reasons for him standing (the lack of progress in the merger process in the union) have now been satisfied.
At this moment the National Unity Gazette is scandalously not recommending support for any of the remaining candidates, despite Hicks being the only left candidate remaining in the contest. The SWP are now grudgingly supporting Hicks.
Hicks' campaign is now not only an opportunity to change the direction of the union, in this period of uncertainty and insecurity for many of our members. It is also an opportunity for us to rebuild and regenerate a new left for the whole of the new union Unite and jettison those who in recent years at best had a chequered and questionable history within the Gazette. This can begin by all fighting left activists attending the launch of the new left organisation, 'United Left' in Birmingham on 21 February.
Jerry Hicks is calling for, amongst other demands, the repeal of all anti-union legislation, a public ownership programme opposing privatisation of jobs and services and a programme of building affordable council homes for rent. He is calling for the election of all officers of the union, and has pledged that he will only take an average skilled member's wage if elected. Jerry has not called for disaffiliation of the union from the Labour Party but wants 'slavish support for the Brown government' to end. He would only support candidates in local or national elections that pledge to support the union's policies.
Socialist Party members in Unite are continuing to support Jerry Hicks' campaign for election.