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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 570, 11 March 2009: Northern Ireland: Sectarian violence returns

Search site for keywords: Amicus - Unite - Election

Amicus: Good left vote

Derek Simpson 60,048, (37.85%)
Jerry Hicks 39,307, (24.84%)
Kevin Coyne 30,603, (19.34%)
Paul Reuter 28,283 (17.87%)

In the Amicus/Unite general secretary election, incumbent Derek Simpson has been re-elected for one year. The result was a poor endorsement, as he received less than 38% of the vote on a 15% turnout.

Kevin Parslow
Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike, Jerry Hicks speaking, photo Paul Mattsson

Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike, Jerry Hicks speaking, photo Paul Mattsson

Simpson tried to parade some 'left' credentials and was highly visible in the media during the campaign and pulled out all the stops to ensure victory. The Unite executive was convinced to send out a letter with the ballot paper alleging part of left candidate Jerry Hick's address was false.

When allegations about his salary, expenses and lifestyle surfaced in the media, Simpson threatened legal action. Coincidentally, an official letter from Simpson to all Amicus members was sent round during the election campaign! Both Coyne and Jerry Hicks are understood to be complaining about the conduct of the campaign.

Coyne and Reuter split the right-wing vote but left-wing candidate Jerry Hicks did extremely well to get just under a quarter of the vote and second place. Jerry visited workers in dispute during the campaign, including the construction engineers, and got an excellent response.

Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike with Keith Gibson and Jerry Hicks (speaking) , photo Paul Mattsson

Public meeting on lessons of the Lindsey oil refinery strike with Keith Gibson and Jerry Hicks (speaking) , photo Paul Mattsson

Similarly, with low-paid bank workers whose jobs are under threat or health workers, Jerry's campaign struck a chord. Promising he would only live on a skilled workers' wage and would question the millions of pounds going to the Labour Party was popular amongst ordinary Amicus members.

"Now more than ever before, we don't just need a 'campaigning union' we need a fighting union, one that instils a confidence in members to resist employers' attacks," said Jerry in his statement after the election. "Ours was absolutely a left campaign calling for people before profit, public ownership not privatisation, and a green campaign."

This campaign must not be an end in itself but the beginning of a campaign to build that fighting union, through left organisations that are prepared to voice and give an answer to Unite members' problems. This is the way forward for socialists in the union.






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