As a regular rail commuter I have a natural interest in timetables.
A little less than five years ago UNISON was gearing up for a ballot on the retention of our political fund – and also for the election of our General Secretary (having myself achieved the worst result of any candidate in such an election I do tend to remember these things!)
Five years ago the NEC set the timetable for the General Secretary election at our October 2004 meeting, although the General Secretary’s term of office at the time did not expire until 1 January 2006.
This broadly followed a precedent set five years previously, ten years ago now, when Rodney Bickerstaffe announced during the summer of 1999 that he would not seek re-election to continue in office after the end of 2000.
In accordance with our Rule Book elections for the post of General Secretary take place as required by law. Under Rule E.3.2; “The General Secretary shall be elected and shall hold office for the maximum period of time prescribed by law.”
The relevant law is the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, section 46(1)(b) of which sets the maximum period of time as five years. However, section 58 provides for exemptions for persons approaching retirement (so that if a General Secretary is within five years of retirement at the point at which their term of office expires they can lawfully remain in office without the need for an election).
Information in the public domain suggests that section 58 is relevant to UNISON as we approach the end of the General Secretary’s current term of office on 1 January 2011.
Watch this space?