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Gains for left in Unison elections
Seven additional left-wingers have been elected to public sector union Unison's leading body, the national executive committee. Although there is not yet a left majority on the executive, the results reflect growing support for greater industrial militancy.
A left coalition including the Socialist Party fought the elections under the title 'Reclaim the Union' (RTU).
Its excellent results brought the executive's left grouping from 18 up to 25 - against 40 others.
In the Black Member seats, Liverpool branch right-winger Calvin Smeda lost his seat to Socialist Party member Hugo Pierre.
In the North West, Roger Bannister held his seat with 6,824 votes - once again the highest vote for any executive member in a regional seat.
The five sitting Socialist Party members on the executive all held their seats.
A number of other Socialist Party members also stood. Glenn Kelly, who lost his seat 2010 during the leadership-led witch hunt against the left, fell 500 votes short of reclaiming it.
RTU gains were in the face of rule breaking by right-wing branches. The returning officer deemed two to have broken rules by using Unison resources to campaign against RTU candidates.
The left swing resulted in six right-wingers losing their seats, including two committee chairs. The most prominent loss was Sue Highton, chair of the union's Development and Organisation Committee, whose Yorkshire and Humberside seat went to Sarah Littlewood.
Three of the four Greater London regional seats, and all but one in the North West, are now held by RTU.
All of this will unsettle the right wing and bureaucracy of the union. It could pave the way for the more independent-minded of the right-wing bloc to break ranks and occasionally vote with the left.
Voting took place ahead of the general election; results came out after the Tories claimed a majority. This means the elections could not scrutinise the union's political strategy.
The leadership gave total, uncritical support to Labour, preceded by no real challenge to its pro-austerity manifesto.
However, the forthcoming general secretary election will do precisely that. The latest results auger well for a left challenge.
In The Socialist 12 June 2015:
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