Wednesday, March 30, 2016

UNISON General Secretary election - see no STV, hear no STV, speak no STV

Without making (in this post) any other comment about the recent election for UNISON General Secretary, I can remind diligent readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Blogger) that - for the first time this century - the winning candidate commanded the support of only a minority of those voting.

Because the voting system is "first past the post" that led to a victory for the candidate with the most votes (and it is doubtful that a different voting system would have produced a different result in 2015).

Nevertheless, there is a strong case for preferential voting in trade union elections (which is that it ensures that the successful candidate is supported - to some extent at least - by a majority of voters). Other TUC affiliated unions use preferential voting (as does the Labour Party) - and the law governing the election of trade union General Secretaries specifically permits the use of the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

Last summer, whilst your humble blogger was holidaying, my friend and comrade Max Watson proposed that the NEC exercise the discretion given to it by Schedule C of the Rule Book to use STV in the then forthcoming General Secretary election. That proposal was roundly defeated.

Lambeth branch, in a continuing mission to help UNISON think about its future, therefore proposed Rule Amendments to remove that discretion and require the use of STV in General Secretary elections. Pedantry even led the branch to cite, in the body of one Rule Amendment, the legislation that permits the use of STV.

Nevertheless, the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for National Delegate Conference (NDC) have ruled our amendments (and others) out of order on the grounds that they could bring the Union into legal jeopardy. Doubtless this decision will be challenged, but as anyone who has read the last post on this blog will appreciate, it is unlikely that this year's Conference will have the chance to have this discussion.

The method of voting in future General Secretary elections is but one of the many issues which those who care about UNISON's future need to be debating - and it's far from being the most important - but it is a great shame that SOC wrongly believe that we shouldn't even be having the discussion‎.

Anyone thinking of producing a leaflet about this matter for distribution at NDC should not, of course, seek inspiration for any graphics from the title of this blog post...

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

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