With the success in June of the “Time For Real Change” left slate in the National Executive Committee (NEC) elections for the public services union Unison, the union’s Labour Link Committee, mandated to guide the union’s activity within the Labour Party, could for the first time be controlled by the left.
Unison have election rules which ban slates in elections, but both right and left of the union have one candidate in each contested seat. (Some are uncontested). Voting runs from 7 Sep to 13 Oct. The left candidates are:
East Midlands - Anjona Roy
Greater London - Ruth Cashman
Northern - Helen Smith
North West - Joanne Moorcroft
South East - Billie Reynolds
South West - Aileen McLoughlin
Yorkshire and Humberside - Paul Holmes
The left split to support different candidates in the Unison General Secretary election and NEC elections, but the Labour left in Unison has agreed to work together in Labour Link. Most of the candidates are supporters of “Time For Real Change”.
Ruth Cashman, the Greater London candidate, has called for Unison to assert itself in the Labour Link, pushing back at the Party’s drift to the right.
“We want to win a Labour government based on mass working-class mobilisation and accountable to the labour movement — a government which serves our class as the Tories in power have served the rich, and reshapes society in the interests of people, not profit. Labour are moving to the right at a time we most need radical change.
“Unison must defend the left-wing policies of 2017-2019 whilst fighting for policies to pandemic-proof society through investment and wealth redistribution.
“Keir Starmer said ‘fire and rehire is wrong and it should be illegal’, but said nothing against Labour Council Tower Hamlets when they used it against key workers in the pandemic. Labour must back our workers when they take strike action. Unison need to organise action on NHS pay. We should also build solidarity and support within the broader Labour movement, including campaigning for the Labour Party to back the NHS pay demand and strikes.
“Covid-19 has exposed to the public how crucial public sector workers are, our union must be bold and confident in its political demands and campaigns.
“These should include:
• A nationalised and well-paid social care service
• Abolish all anti-union laws
• Mass council house-building programme
• Pay rises across public services
• An end to austerity and privatisation
“I would work to democratise the Labour Link, better engage branches and link up Unison activists to fight for Unison policies at CLP level. Unison should also fight for the democratisation of the Labour Party, including a sovereign conference, where CLPs and unions decide policy, and open selections for MPs.”