Friday, March 24, 2017

UNISON NEC elections - a vital chance for change

The list of candidates in the forthcoming elections to UNISON’s National Executive Council (NEC) has been published and, for the first time since 2003 (the first occasion on which the whole UNISON NEC was elected in a single election) you won’t find my name on it.

I’ll write more soon about my experiences on the NEC and the reasons why, after fourteen years, I have chosen not to seek re-election, my purpose in writing now is to draw to your attention that the great bulk of the candidates contesting seats on the NEC are one of two slates.

I shall cast my votes, wherever I can, for candidates supported by the UNISON Action Broad Left  - these are the candidates who recognise the need for change in our trade union, which is currently neither growing, nor defending the jobs and living standards of our members. The new Broad Left, founded at the largest meeting at last year’s National Delegate Conference, is a truly broad church of activists with a range of views, although the largest number are left-wing Labour Party supporters like myself.

The alternative view is represented by those who support the current leadership of the Union, and who have gathered under the banner of the “Stronger UNISON” statement (about which I have passed comment before). These candidates will no doubt sound every bit as left-wing and radical to anyone reading election statements, but their programme amounts to more of the same. They can expect enthusiastic support from all those with a vested interest in the status quo.

There are a tiny number of candidates standing who may make a virtue of not being part of either organised slate, but the idea that a trade union should be led by those who make a virtue out of not organising is, to put it gently, a bit odd. An individual, no matter how experienced, intelligent or principled, can make no impact on the NEC of UNISON without taking sides. This may be unfortunate but it is how things are.

In the aftermath of the shocking conduct which has been exposed in the last General Secretary election (and – let me stress – I make no allegations against the successful candidate) it is clear that UNISON needs to change. It is by supporting the candidates of the UNISON Action Broad Left in the NEC elections that any UNISON member can contribute to that necessary change.


Good Luck Comrades!

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