Support Jerry Hicks for Unite General Secretary

An election for General Secretary of UNITE will take place in March and Len McCluskey will be seeking a second term of office. Jerry Hicks, who has obtained at least 120 valid nominations (more than twice the 50 necessary to force a contest) will be standing against him as a radical and more militant alternative. Socialist Resistance will be supporting Jerry Hicks and his campaign in this election.

There is no right wing candidate in the election so even those ex-Amicus members who see Len McCluskey as a vast improvement over Derek Simpson should not feel restrained from voting for a candidate with a consistently left record who is in favour of a radical democratisation of the union and supporting union members who take action. Such a contest can only be good for democracy and good for the union.

During his three years in office Len McCluskey has made some positive contributions both to the union itself and the wider movement. Inside the union the creation of community branches makes it possible to organise the unemployed, and particularly the young unemployed who have never worked or been in a union. Progress in establishing the branches has been slow in many areas and resourcing them adequately is still a big issue, but already they must be considered a success.

The reorganisation of branches into a mainly workplace based structure is also positive. A workplace branch is more accessible and relevant to the ordinary member; it can encourage members to take an interest in the wider trade union, community, and political issues; and this in turn will make it more difficult for the full time officials to ignore the branches. Unfortunately the reorganisation has been top down without consultation with existing branches. This has led to a year in which many members, and most ex-Amicus members, were without a branch or had no idea what branch they were in. The fact that elections to industrial committees, local activists committees and regional committees took place while this chaos still reigned does question the legitimacy of these bodies.

Len McCluskey has also become one of the most outspoken trade union critics of austerity. He has demanded that Ed Milliband come out against all cuts in public spending. He has verbally supported civil disobedience by UK Uncut and others. He has campaigned for the TUC to “investigate the possibility” of a general strike. He is sponsoring the Peoples Assembly.

The downside is that he has failed to lead any actions against austerity. He helped to demobilise the pensions dispute after the strike on November 30th 2011. He has failed to lead any opposition to the public sector wage freeze. Although he spoken in favour of Councillors who are members of UNITE defying cuts budgets, when his deputy Gail Cartmell urged them to do the opposite he did not contradict her. UNITE has led no struggles against redundancies in the public sector. UNITE has continued to be the biggest funder of the Labour Party which supports austerity without attaching any strings to its donations. Politically he calls for reclaiming the Labour Party.

In industry UNITE has supported a whole series of deals enshrining the concept of a two-tier workforce, including Jaguar/Landrover, British Airways, London buses and Vauxhall Ellesmere Port. During the building workers dispute with Balfour Beatty and others over the National wage agreement, UNITE not only failed to support the workers in struggle but even called their grassroots organisation a cancer. Jerry Hicks stood with the workers on the picket line and helped to establish their organisation.

Len McCluskey’s has fitted in comfortably as a member of the union’s hierarchy. He believes in the appointment of full time officials at salaries far higher than the members they represent. Jerry Hicks proposes the election of all officials on the average wage of the members.

Reasons to support Jerry Hicks

1. Jerry Hicks is the only candidate who supports the election of all officials in UNITE.
2. Jerry Hicks is the only candidate to say he will accept the average wage of the members he seeks to represent.
3. Jerry Hicks is the only candidate who promises a determined fight to destroy the ant-union laws.
4. Jerry Hicks has also fully supported the campaign to expose the blacklist in the building industry and the connivance of some Unite officials in maintaining it.
5. Jerry Hicks opposes giving large sums of money to the Labour Party without firm commitments for them to follow UNITE policies on the economy and industry.
6. Jerry Hicks has shown in practice in his work in Bristol against the Cuts that he is willing to lead a real fight against austerity.
7. For all his militant talk, Len McCluskey has failed to lead any industrial action against the wage freeze or the redundancies in the public sector and has retreated from a fight on pensions. He has been complicit in the establishment of a two tier workforce where new and agency workers are flagrantly discriminated against.
8. Len McCluskey is bending the rules by standing before the end of his term to enable him to continue as GS until he is 67 years old.
9. Unite has issued a disgraceful libel action against Gerry Downing , Chair of the Grassroots Left grouping which supports Jerry Hicks, for his criticism of the actions of the UNITE official for London buses.

Local committees need to be established quickly to organise leafleting of bus garages, factories, banks and other workplaces. Hopefully the election can be used to create a much stronger organisation of those campaigning for an alternative to the United Left’s politics of left rhetoric and right action.

  1. Let’s be clear here Len McCluskey is better than the other leaders of corporate trade unionism (Dave Prentis Unison and Paul Kenny GMB), but that’s not saying a lot.

    I believe this election is about rank and file unionism vs corporate trade unionism, any proper unionist must support Brother Hicks through this election and even more after the election (if he wins) as the right wing will look to take him out quickly.
    The threat of all union officers facing elections of the membership is something that the self serving wing right of corporate trade unionism will not want at all, therefore the real fight will start after the election in trying to bring in the policies that Brother Hicks is standing on.

    I believe this is what we need to do to make the union a bottom up organisation and not a top down institution this requires some fundamental changes to the present structure:

    1) All Regional Secretaries and Regional Officers would be subject to a direct ballot of the Regional membership every 4 years.

    2) More money given back to branches at least 15%.

    3) Branches being able to elect one delegate directly to National Conference for every 500 members they have.

    4) Branches of any size being able to send at least two motions directly to Conference.

    5) The General Secretary and all National Officers would be subject to a direct ballot of the entire membership every 4 years.

    The elections, power being devolved to branches and workplace organisation, would ensure that the decision making bodies and officer positions were accountable to the membership.

    The difference would be felt in that the direct democratic elections for all posts and the 4 year terms and the right of recall of all posts would ensure accountability.

    We should all get behind Brother Hicks and ensure he wins, if Brother Hicks wins then so does the rank and file.

    • Well done all who ensured that Jerry got on the ballot paper. Elections that are not contested only consolidate the grip of corporate trade unionism in any union.

      The statement by socialist resistance implies that while Len McCluskey talks a good fight his actions do not match his words.

      The criticisms of his role in de mobilizing the pensions dispute, failure to lead opposition to the public sector pay freeze and the deals that enshrine a two tier workforce in the private sector may appear valid on the surface. However what were the balance of forces and the unions real strength and ability to engage in struggle.

      By union I mean the members and not the fantastically paid hired hands and the other bureaucratic structures that the members subs pay for.

      Regrettable that the apparent lack of leadership might appear it could be the case that an out of control tanker travelling in the wrong direction cannot be turned around by one individual overnight. (A reality Jerry will face without proper support from a committed group of non sectarian left activists in the union).

      However even if the benefit of the doubt is given in relation to the above the key question of resourcing at a branch and a workplace level is the vital question.

      Union members requiring a service do not want to know that very well paid paid officials are on sick leave, holiday or sabbatical or whatever excuse is being used this time to avoid addressing the issue.

      Branches need to be able to employ branch organising and servicing officers to deal with the grievances and disciplinaries, setting an example, identifying potential stewards, assisting in ensuring that the branch functions properly.

      Elected officials on the average wage of the members they represent or the average wage of a skilled worker as a maximum-plus legitimate expenses – Jerry is by far the bast candidate to vote for in relation to these issues.

      Unfortunately on the political front it is my belief that as a union we must stay affiliated to the Labour party and fight to return it to what it was supposedly set up for in the first place which was to fight for the interests of organised labour in particular and our class in general. I do not believe that is a view that Jerry shares and therefore despite his far superior policies in relation to union organisation I cannot see at this moment in time Jerry winning would really take the union forward

  2. Well done all who ensured that Jerry got on the ballot paper. Elections that are not contested only consolidate the grip of corporate trade unionism in any union.

    The statement by socialist resistance implies that while Len McCluskey talks a good fight his actions do not match his words.

    The criticisms of his role in de mobilizing the pensions dispute, failure to lead opposition to the public sector pay freeze and the deals that enshrine a two tier workforce in the private sector may appear valid on the surface. However what were the balance of forces and the unions real strength and ability to engage in struggle.

    By union I mean the members and not the fantastically paid hired hands and the other bureaucratic structures that the members subs pay for.

    Regrettable that the apparent lack of leadership might appear it could be the case that an out of control tanker travelling in the wrong direction cannot be turned around by one individual overnight. (A reality Jerry will face without proper support from a committed group of non sectarian left activists in the union).

    However even if the benefit of the doubt is given in relation to the above the key question of resourcing at a branch and a workplace level is the vital question.

    Union members requiring a service do not want to know that very well paid paid officials are on sick leave, holiday or sabbatical or whatever excuse is being used this time to avoid addressing the issue.

    Branches need to be able to employ branch organising and servicing officers to deal with the grievances and disciplinaries, setting an example, identifying potential stewards, assisting in ensuring that the branch functions properly.

    Elected officials on the average wage of the members they represent or the average wage of a skilled worker as a maximum-plus legitimate expenses – Jerry is by far the bast candidate to vote for in relation to these issues.

    Unfortunately on the political front it is my belief that as a union we must stay affiliated to the Labour party and fight to return it to what it was supposedly set up for in the first place which was to fight for the interests of organised labour in particular and our class in general. I do not believe that is a view that Jerry shares and therefore despite his far superior policies in relation to union organisation I cannot see at this moment in time Jerry winning would really take the union forward

  3. Dear Brother McKenzie,

    I agree with you that we must have someone standing from the rank and file in every election against a candidate of corporate trade unionism in every union. I also agree with you that branches need more money (at least 15%) to be able to employ branch organising and servicing officers to deal with the grievances and disciplinaries, setting an example, identifying potential stewards, assisting in ensuring that the branch functions properly. And I agree with you that elected officials on the average wage of the members they represent or the average wage of a skilled worker as a maximum-plus legitimate expenses, and no more.

    I disagree with you on your statement regarding the political front.

    I have not read any article from Brother Hicks saying he will dis-affiliate the union from the Labour party if he wins and becomes general secretary, this is something that I would not support. Also for the union to dis-affiliate from the Labour party that is a decision for the membership to make and not the general secretary, there was a ballot on this issue a few years ago and the result was to stay in the Labour party, I cannot see the members of the union changing their minds on this issue.

    Also, the statements I have seen Brother Hicks make on the Labour party is no more blank cheques going to be given to the Labour party.
    No more extra money given to the Labour party until the Labour party starts supporting union policies, I fully agree with this and I am a member of the Labour party. I also agree that we will only support Labour MPs that carry out our union policies such as John McDonnell, and we will only support Labour councillors that do not vote for cuts and promote union policies. I agree with this also.

    Brother Hicks is by far the best candidate for the job based on the information I have.

    Vote for Jerry Hicks

  4. Affiliation to the Labour Party (or any other)is a matter for Policy Conference.There was and will be soon a Unite (or their separate entities) ballot(s) on the Political Fund(s). It essential that all members vote for the retention of the Political Fund (Labour or not). Despite the fact that Labour Party affiliation is paid from this fund other activities funded and considered political activity are paid from this fund. Any activity considered political cannot by law be funded from General Funds.

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