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 can protect and improve your terms and conditions at work.”
The new NEC could turn around some of the industrial failures of the union. The strength of feeling of NHS workers against the pay offer gives them the opportunity to build an industrial dispute with real energy on the ground. We should aim and work for national action across the NHS, though the anti-union laws make national ballots difficult to win, so it may require disaggregated ballots at first.
The new leadership will face an entrenched bureaucracy who will try and prevent transformation of the union. They should respond with a coherent plan to democratise the union and empower members.