Broad lefts and rank-and-file groups

Little choice in CWU election

Nominations in the posts and telecoms union CWU closed recently, providing further evidence of the sharp decline in the activist base within the organisation. Four National Officer posts saw candidates returned unopposed. That includes three that were vacant following the retirement of the previous incumbents. All the new occupants are drawn from the HQ bureaucracy. This is a sad state of affairs given that five-year elections were agreed by a conference, giving rank and file activists the opportunity to challenge incumbents who had previously been elected for life. Such challenges were a...

Back Martin Powell-Davies in NEU

Nominations close on 13 September for the newly created Deputy General Secretary role in the National Education Union (NEU). All three candidates already have at least 15 Districts, the number they need to ensure they are on the ballot paper. Martin Powell-Davies is the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) candidate. The ESN is a rank and file organisation fighting for a more democratic, militant and industrial union. Workers’ Liberty is centrally involved with the ESN. Gawain Little is the candidate of the mis-named “NEU Left”, the group that currently control the union. Gawain is also a long...

Strong left minority at PCS Conference

The National Conference of the civil service workers' union PCS took place virtually on Sunday-Monday 13-14 June. Branches were allowed to submit motions and requests to speak in advance of the conference, with votes taken during the conference based on the strength of branch memberships. There was no ability to submit emergency motions or for branches to appeal to conferences to challenge standing orders. PCS Independent Left comrades on the NEC made proposals for this to happen, but this was voted down by the leadership majority. The conference was split into four sections: Covid-19 and...

Left wins Unison NEC

The left has won control of the national executive committee (NEC) of public services union Unison for the first time since its formation in 1993. Left candidates took 41 of the 68 seats. The Time For Real Change slate, formed out of the campaign to back Paul Holmes for general secretary, and supported by Workers’ Liberty, took 37 seats. A further four were won by Socialist Party candidates. The Time for Real Change group said in a statement, “This majority for change on the Unison NEC must now enable a positive transformation of our union. We are determined to change Unison into a force that...

Electricians win deskilling fight

A campaign of direct action by electricians in the construction industry has scored a major victory. Contractors Balfour Beatty and NG Bailey are “permanently withdrawing” plans to introduce a new grade of electrician with lower training standards at the major Hinckley Point C (HPC) development. A letter announcing the bosses’ climbdown said the plans were scrapped “after Unite [union] raised concerns.” Those “concerns” were expressed in a campaign, taking place over several months, in which workers and their supporters mounted protests, including demonstrations and sit-ins, at sites connected...

The threat from the right in Unite: Stop Coyne!

For more debate and discussion about the Unite General Secretary election, see here. Nominations for the Unite the Union General Secretary election closed last week. All four candidates secured enough branch or workplace nominations for a place on the ballot paper. The minimum number needed was 172. Howard Beckett (Head of Unite’s Legal Department) had 328. Gerard Coyne (Unite West Midlands Regional Secretary until his dismissal in 2017) had 196, Sharon Graham (Head of Unite’s Organising Department) 349, and Steve Turner (Unite Assistant General Secretary) 525. Coyne is the candidate of the...

Making some ground (John Moloney's column)

PCS annual delegate conference took place digitally on 13-14 June. Workers’ Liberty activists, as part of the Independent Left network, supported various motions to the conference. A motion on full-time officials’ pay, which talked about exploring ways to bring officers’ pay more closely in line with the average pay of members, was defeated, but by a margin which suggests some ground has been made in this debate since last discussed. Similarly, a proposal for the election of all officials was also defeated, but the motion on union structure that was passed included language about exploring...

Unite the Union deadline is 7 June

Two of the four candidates seeking election as the next General Secretary of Unite the Union have already won enough branch nominations (175) to get on the ballot paper. Branches can add nominations until 7 June. Voting will be between 5 July and 23 August. Sharon Graham, head of the union’s Organising Department, announced her 175th nomination on 25 May. On 29 May Howard Beckett, head of the union’s Legal Department, announced that he had 231 nominations. Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner, backed by the union’s United Left (UL), had just 120 nominations (as of a tweet on 26 May), while...

PCS: we still need to transform the union

On a woefully low turnout of just 7.5% of members the ruling Left Unity (LU) group has secured a comprehensive victory in the elections for the National Executive (NEC) of the PCS civil service workers’ union (results announced 14 May). PCS will continue to be run by the same LU faction that has failed the membership for 18 years, but now minus the Socialist Party which was for most of those years central to that leadership and its failings. For many years the LU leadership has presided over defeat and retreat. It has lurched from inertia to belated, poorly prepared campaigns that treated the...

Unite election: a more critical approach needed

For debate and discussion about the election, see here. For Unite's existing political strategy, referred to below, see here. Sharon Graham is a very well-paid unelected trade union bureaucrat standing as “The Workers’ Candidate” in the Unite the Union General Secretary election now underway. That doesn't rule out supporting her. Two of her competitors (Steve Turner and Howard Beckett) are also very well-paid unelected trade union bureaucrats, and the very right-wing Gerard Coyne isn't one only because he was sacked after standing against Len McCluskey in the 2017 General Secretary election...

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