Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 19 May 2021

Unison: Elect reps who will back strike action

  (Click to enlarge)

NHS worker

Ballot papers are being sent out to the 1.3 million members of public sector union Unison to elect the new national executive council (NEC), the highest elected body of the union. The best way to encourage people to vote is to inspire them with what Unison can do to fight for them.

The NEC, along with the general secretary, is the body which has the final say on whether Unison will back industrial action or not. This alone will be a crucial question in the next few months, with pay a vital issue for health, local government and education workers.

It was strike action that won equal pay for NHS workers in Northern Ireland, in one of the first industrial battles after Boris Johnson was elected. This included RCN, striking for the first time. It is strike action that will be crucial in the battles over pay now.

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the NHS pay campaign Facebook groups. Unison members are rightly angry that so few candidates support the grassroots campaign for a 15% pay rise for NHS staff, which the Socialist Party supports.

Even among the candidates standing for health seats, only one called for a 15% pay rise - Socialist Party member Adrian O'Malley. The response was clear in the comments:

"Then that is where people should be putting their vote IMHO. A record of defending members, fighting privatisation and 15%. Ticks all the boxes."

"Yes he's the only one who stood out to me, calling for 15% and socialist representation."

"He's the one who got my vote too."

Adrian came within 300 votes of winning a seat on the NEC in the last elections two years ago. With the mood for change among many Unison members, particularly after the struggles of Covid and the insulting 1% NHS pay offer, you'd expect him to be elected easily.

But yet again the left is split, risking letting the right in again. Rather than coming to an agreement not to stand against each other in key seats, a left slate headed by Paul Holmes, who ran for general secretary, has insisted on standing against Adrian, and other Socialist Party members. Unfortunately, the Paul Holmes slate is also standing on a weaker, less combative programme than the socialists they are standing against, which has less chance of inspiring members.

The sad fact is, most members are not that engaged with how the union works, and don't understand the NEC or the role it can play in deciding the direction of the union. Unison activists face a battle to get the biggest turnout possible. In the general secretary election last autumn the turnout was 9.8%.

It is more important than ever to ensure that the left wins a majority on the NEC. We need a fighting, democratic Unison with a socialist leadership.

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'. These articles are produced without the authorisation any 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 19 May 2021:


Build a mass movement to end Israeli state terror

Tens of thousands march against Israeli state terror

What we think

Johnson's Tories and Starmer's Labour have nothing to offer workers

Starmer moves against Unite - No to the attack on Beckett


What's needed to stop more Covid outbreaks?

Capitalism responsible for stark global Covid vaccine inequality

Workplace news

NHS: Scottish vote shows unions must fight for 15%

Unison: Elect reps who will back strike action

PCS elections - incumbents win, but solid vote for Broad Left Network

DVLA workers suspend strike for talks

Huge victory at Go North West as Unite defeats 'fire and rehire'

London Metroline strike against 'remote sign-on' goes ahead

CWU members' resolve to strike still firm as union enters talks

Strikes round-up

Campaigns news

Glasgow mass action defeats Home Office deportation attempt

Students and unions must resist misnamed 'free speech' bill

Mulivaikkal Remembrance Day 2021

Socialist Party black and Asian members discuss history

Help fund our bold socialist presence

We will not pay the cost of Covid! Defend the right to protest

Brighton marches to defend Moulsecoomb Primary School


Spycops inquiry continues to expose historic attacks on democratic rights

New voter ID laws: Electoral fraud - Tory style

News in brief

Readers' opinion

Readers' opinion


Home   |   The Socialist 19 May 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleSocialist Party to the fore at Unison LG conference

triangleRight lose control in national executive council election

triangleUnison & PCS conferences Socialist Party fringe meeting

triangleCadent Gas plans 200 job losses

triangleNHS: Scottish vote shows unions must fight for 15%


triangleReaders' comments

triangleLeicester University workers strike against redundancies

triangleEngineers in fourth week of strike action

triangleTV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners


triangleFight for a socialist leadership in PCS, build a fighting, democratic union!

triangleSt Mungo's workers walkout

triangleBallots to defend reps on Woolwich Ferry


triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Does capitalism really encourage innovation?

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Abortion rights under attack


triangleSparks win victory!

Socialist Party:

triangleCardiff West Socialist Party: Housing is a right - Stop the evictions!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Women's health matters



Tamil Solidarity asylum victory



Beth Roper inquest: Train company failures ignored



Make vaccine technology public, nationalise big-pharma



Neonatal leave introduced: Unions must fight for extensions and full pay



Fight for the funding our schools and colleges need



Left candidate needed for Unite general secretary election



If unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories


Tory party

Tory splits and infighting growing


Climate change

G7 Can't solve poverty, Covid and climate change - join the struggle for Socialism



G7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power



Dea-John Reid murder: Jobs, homes and services, not racism



'Let's fight to win on NHS pay and funding'



Capitalism's Covid failings



Unite general secretary campaign: Statement from Howard Beckett

triangleMore News and socialist analysis 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



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



Alphabetical listing

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021