Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1130/32409

From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2021

Unison union elections

Socialist Party members - part of a left challenge for Unison's leadership

Barnsley Unison lobby of council cabinet 29.5.19, photo A Tice

Barnsley Unison lobby of council cabinet 29.5.19, photo A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Socialist Party members in Unison

Despite the recent election of 'Keir Starmer-friendly' Christina McAnea as the Unison General Secretary in January, the elections for the national executive council (NEC) could see the union executive swing to the left. The nomination period has ended and there will be eight Socialist Party members standing in the election.

After ten years of austerity, Unison members are again on the frontline, fighting for their lives and livelihoods as the Covid pandemic turns into economic crisis. But throughout, Unison's leadership has failed to defend members, caving in to pressure for national unity with the Tories. They refused to call meetings to debate and plan a strategy, and even threatened disciplinary action against activists who sought to organise.

McAnea is already proving she's the 'continuity' general secretary. She declared that Keir Starmer - who is driving Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity stance out of the Labour Party - is doing a good job. Her response to the 1% NHS pay insult was a slow hand-clap and window poster displays.

But Unison members are clearly looking at how the union can best organise a fight to keep them safe, defend their jobs and break the public sector pay freeze.

In Scotland, Socialist Party member Jim McFarlane was nominated by 27 branches, over a third of all Scottish branches. Socialist Party member Tom Hunt, who is standing for the first time, won the nomination of the Notts county branch where his opponent, ex-president and sitting NEC member Chris Tansley, is a branch member. This is even more remarkable as Tansley was elected unopposed in the last round of elections.

Socialist Party members April Ashley and Hugo Pierre both received well over 100 nominations to stand for the national black members' constituency. Hugo's 147 nominations is his best ever total, following his campaign as a candidate in the general secretary election. And Socialist Party member David Maples, standing for the first time, received over 30 nominations to stand for a national disabled members' seat.

The nomination process has meant that there will be challengers for the NEC seats where right-wingers have won seats unopposed in recent elections. With members looking for a fighting lead, those challenges could be successful.

However, the nomination process also poses problems for a successful challenge to the right wing. A grouping called the 'Members' Team', based loosely around Labour left activists and the Socialist Workers' Party, voted for the closing down of Unison Action broad left, just before the nomination process started. This broad left which was initiated by and included Socialist Party members, had agreed that it would come back together to agree a slate for the 2021 NEC elections after failing to agree by consensus one candidate for the general secretary.

The Members' Team brought together a slate with no regard to decisions they had previously made when part of Unison Action. Socialist Party members made clear their support for all existing left NEC members and called for their nomination in branches.

The Members' Team, however, refused publicly to call for support for sitting Socialist Party NEC members Hugo Pierre, April Ashley and Jim McFarlane, and it is clear from the list of nominating branches that leading Members' Team activists did not call for their nomination in their branches.

This sectarian attitude persisted in supporting other candidates in opposition to Socialist Party members.

In the 2019 NEC elections, they, as part of Unison Action, nominated Socialist Party member Adrian O'Malley, a well-known and leading health activist, for the national male Health seat and Socialist Party member John Malcolm for the Northern region seat. Adrian nearly defeated a past president in that election.

In Greater London, Unison Action agreed to nominate Socialist Party member Naomi Byron, who led a major campaign for full sick pay in a private sector NHS provider, for the low-paid members' seat in a by-election that was abandoned because of the pandemic.

All three now face a battle to win those seats for the left, by fighting both a right and a Members' Team candidate. Supporters of Roger MacKenzie, who was backed by Jeremy Corbyn in the general secretary election, are also standing against left-wing incumbents.

Unfortunately, the Members' Team refused to meet or discuss a way forward following calls by Socialist Party members and others. Undoubtedly this refusal to meet was based on a move away from the programme that is needed to transform Unison into a fighting democratic union. They say they stand for "change" - but what change is needed?

The Members' Team supported Paul Holmes's general secretary election campaign, which dropped key aspects of the agreed Unison Action policy programme. The Members' Team has moved further away and dropped the call on Labour councils not to make cuts and instead to fight austerity, and for an immediate 15% NHS pay rise.

They call for "a relationship with the Labour Party based on a willingness to fight the Tories, not socialists", whatever that means! This change in particular must have been made to accommodate sitting Labour councillors who haven't opposed cuts, to stand under the Members' Team umbrella. This is something the left have been extremely critical of in the past; when right-wingers like John Gray and Chris Tansley vote as Labour councillors to make cuts but then sit on decisions our union conferences make to oppose cuts and to defend members' jobs, pay, terms and conditions.

If the make-up of the NEC does shift left and those standing for 'change' are in a majority up against a right-wing general secretary, they will be tested.

Socialist Party members will be putting a clear programme to members for Unison to fight the public sector pay freeze, for national action to fight cuts and end privatisation and for democratisation of our union. We say not a penny more of members' money to cuts-making and privatising councillors and MPs, and argue for a discussion about how to achieve a genuine working-class political voice.

The ballot opens on 4 May and Socialist Party members will be campaigning to transform Unison.


Rules introduced by Unison to clamp down on democratic debate in the union mean that candidates for union elections cannot 'invite or accept' support 'in money or kind' from any entity which 'is not provided for in Unison rules'. This article is produced without the authorisation of the candidates, in order to comply with these requirements.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 21 April 2021:


What we think

Build a Socialist alternative

Capitalism discriminates against us - Disabled people fighting for our rights


Football

Football: no trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game


International

Left candidate, Pedro Castillo - surprise of Peruvian elections

USA: cop killings and the anti-racist movement

Superpowers' tensions continue to ratchet up


Elections

Don't trust the Labour right's empty promises

Fight to stop cuts

Keep Liverpool council's One Stop Shops open

Liverpool hustings - only TUSC has a strategy to take on the Tories

Essex: Why I'm standing for TUSC

Carlisle campaign day success

Socialist Party northern region meeting

With public campaigning back in full swing - now is the time to raise fighting fund


Workplace

Socialist Party members - part of a left challenge for Unison's leadership

Fight back against British Gas bosses' 'fire and rehire' offensive

Retail workers desperately need a fighting and democratic union

CWU BT ballot - time for action now!

Thurrock bin workers solid in strike against pay cuts

Bus workers protest Go-Ahead's 'fire and rehire'

Ballots to defend reps on Woolwich Ferry

PCS leadership ballot underway


News

Long Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services

Climate change - Johnson spouts 'greenwash 2.0'

Covid and precarious workers - union organisation vital

News in brief


Campaigns

Housing activists storm rental firm's offices

Protests continue against proposed anti-protest laws


 

Home   |   The Socialist 21 April 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Unison:

triangleFor a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

triangleKeep Liverpool council's One Stop Shops open

triangleCapitalism discriminates against us - Disabled people fighting for our rights

triangleUnison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Socialist Party:

triangleSocialist Party national meeting: Perspectives for socialism after the elections

triangleNational Education Union needs a socialist, fighting deputy general secretary

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: The May elections - and the need for a new mass workers' party

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: Israel-Palestine flare-up - how can the conflict be ended?

Socialist:

triangleStop Israeli state brutality

triangleObituary - Jon Elvin

triangleRight-wing Partido Popular wins Madrid elections - a warning to the working class

Union:

triangleBeal High School strike against sick policy resumes

triangleFour Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive

Elections:

triangleTUSC is back

Election:

triangleRMT: Militant industrial and political strategy must be fought for

Hugo Pierre:

triangleWest London Socialist Party: No cuts budgets - how can they be paid for?

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

12/5/21

Obituary

Obituary - Jon Elvin

12/5/21

Workers

United action needed to defeat fire and rehire

12/5/21

TUSC

TUSC is back

12/5/21

RMT

RMT: Militant industrial and political strategy must be fought for

12/5/21

National Education Union

National Education Union needs a socialist, fighting deputy general secretary

12/5/21

Thurrock

Thurrock refuse workers strike escalates

12/5/21

Ealing

Ealing parking wardens strike against Serco over absence policy

12/5/21

Norwich

Norwich City Council workers vote for strike action over broken promises on pay and conditions

12/5/21

National Education Union

Beal school strikers suspend action after possible victory

12/5/21

Electricians

Sparks fight continues

9/5/21

Socialist Party

Post-election meetings

5/5/21

National Education Union

Four Socialist Party members elected to NEU executive

5/5/21

East London

Goodlord strike forces talks

5/5/21

Bullying

St Mungo's strikers fight on

5/5/21

Unison

For a fighting, democratic, member-led union to stop the austerity attacks

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999