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Usdaw elections announced - fight for a left leadership, vote for Amy Murphy
Socialist Party members in Usdaw
Usdaw general secretary John Hannett's retirement, announced at the shop workers' union's annual summer school, has been a long time in the offing.
Having foregone the election five years ago on the basis of Thatcher's anti-union laws, which allow general secretaries due to retire at the end of their next term to not face the ballot box, then this was something many activists knew was likely - hence union activists calls to run the general secretary election alongside the executive council elections.
The executive council and presidential elections, which will now happen concurrently with the general secretary election, are perhaps even more important.
From having an executive council in the past predominantly made up of nodding dogs, the most recent executive has kept Usdaw's leadership on their toes, narrowly missing out on getting the union's endorsement for Jeremy Corbyn in last year's leadership election and winning support for the left candidate in the current Scottish Labour leadership campaign.
The coming elections offer the possibility of building on these changes to elect a left-wing executive that will hold the new general secretary to account. That's why we will be supporting the biggest possible challenge from Usdaw's Broad Left in these elections and its presidential candidate, Amy Murphy - currently executive member for Southern division and a Socialist Party member.
It's is striking however, that the only general secretary candidate to declare so far, current deputy general secretary Paddy Lillis, has positioned himself to the left of the current leadership's presidential candidate Barbara Wilson.
Lillis' nomination leaflet, for example, specifically raises Usdaw's support for a £10 an hour minimum wage for all and abolition of zero-hour contracts, as opposed to
Wilson's vague references. However, Usdaw members may be concerned that when Lillis references winning decent pay rises for members he doesn't rule out giving up hard-won terms and conditions as has been the trend in recent negotiations.
Usdaw Broad Left candidates are clear in pushing for all of those issues, including mounting serious campaigns among the membership and public to win such demands. It is imperative that Usdaw members make sure we have a fighting president and executive council to take our union forward.