By Adie Kemp
UNISON's National Executive Committee comes up for re-election over the next two months. The whole committee is facing re-election, and the left inside the union has fielded the largest united slate of candidates since the union's foundation.
Thirty four candidates across regional and national seats are standing on a UNISON United Left ticket, and all expectations are that the left will increase its representation on the new committee.
A particularly hard-fought contest looks set to occur in the Health Group seats. The left is standing Margaret Bean from North Glasgow, Adrian O'Malley from Wakefield and Kate Ahrens from Leicestershire alongside the current postholder Mark New from Dudley for the four seats. The on-going battles inside the health group over the Agenda for Change proposals mark a clear dividing line between left and right and will give the elections added significance.
Across the country, there are left candidates in nine out of the thirteen regions as well as in the "reserved" seats that UNISON has established as a quota device for black representation.
Normally the turnout for national committee elections in UNISON is abysmally low, but it is to be hoped that the increase in left candidatures will turn these elections into something more important that the average beauty contest between would-be bureaucrats that NEC elections in UNISON have often been.
UNISON members should watch out for the arrival of ballot papers with their UNISON magazine in the next couple of weeks.