The Empire Strikes Back

McCluskey moves to the right exclusive! The union's executive have banned two of the Grass Roots Left candidates from standing for the executive in this year's election.

Ray Smith, secretary of Newcastle Central 1901 branch, and David Beaumont, secretary of Hounslow and Feltham 1404M branch have both been prevented from standing. They received a personal message from General Secretary Len McCluskey:
"The Executive Council decided that you were not eligible to stand for election at its meeting on 29 to 31 January 2011. The minutes of its meeting are not yet available."

Ray wrote back:
"Dear Len,

Thank you very much for this. This matter is in the hands of the Certification Officer. For the avoidance of any doubt I assert for the reasons given in my complaint to the Certification Officer that you have, maybe personally, broken the rules of the union.

Let me say also that you are beginning to be reminiscent of Derek Simpson and the employers in the shipyards and the building sites where I used to work.

Why can you not honour your election pledges and return the union to the democracy that previous incumbents have stolen?"
The two have been banned under rule 6.2 and 6.3:
6.2 In order to be eligible to be a candidate for election to, or hold office on, the Executive Council and/or any committee, council, or other body of the Union provided for by these rules, the member in question must be an accountable representative of workers.
6.3 The definition of the term “accountable representative of workers” shall be in the exclusive power of the Executive Council, which is empowered to take into account changing industrial realities and the unique nature of some industries (, contracting, leisure, rural etc) in formulating such a definition. It must nevertheless include Branch office-holders who are in employment, shop stewards, health & safety and equalities representatives.
Undeniably David and Ray are branch office holders but McCluskey claims they are not 'in employment'.  Ray is a self employed engineer and David a self employed IT consultant. The union had previously taken the extraordinary step of demanding (and receiving), their tax returns, to establish that they were really self employed, which they are.

Just to rub in that this really is a vindictive and selective move against the two, and against Grass Roots Left,  the union added "This should not be taken as meaning that self-employed members are automatically ineligible to stand for lay office." In fact there are already self employed members of the union's executive.  Read David's complaint of breach of the union's rules here.

Both candidates have already received more than enough branch nominations to stand.


  1. It has taken McCluskey a matter of weeks to turn on the activists as we knew he would, this despite assurances given to me personally by his chief of staff Andrew Murray, this assurance was given when we spoke on the phone last friday. Many of us work outside the normal Employer, Employee relationship because we have been victimised for our trade union activities, the Union should want these voices heard not stifled, it is dispicable that this Union seeks to prevent good people from even standing for the E C, McCluskey is just carrying on in the fine traditions of Sir Ken Jackson who was the first to start this horrible idea that if you were not working then your voice did not count.
    Len for gods sake grow up and start remembering some of the valuable lessons that you say you learned in th early 1980's.
    One final thing Len, what makes this matter worse is when it is your own trade union that put you in that position in the first place.

  2. Also something does not feel right about an EC, which whilst seeking re-election, can make decisions that disadvantage others who by virtue of the fact are seeking election themselves...The Watcher

  3. We need to stand against such unreasonable and irrational decision. As the EC as well as McCluskey position is in serious question,do you think any sort of legal challenge like judicial review with interim injunction on NEC Election. I believe you have strong ground for Judicial review.

  4. I believe that we must not disenfrancise our unemployed, self employed or victimised activists by using the unjust and discredited rule 6.

    If they are good enough to stand up and represent our members when in paid employment - we should not then knee them in the bol**ks and discard them when they have been thrown out of work. They have the activism and experience that should be utilised for the betterment of our members and union.

  5. There should be allowances for the victimised, allowances for the unemployed in rule but not exceptions for the self employed. The self employed are as they are described, self employed. They have no collective interest in opposing an employer. Their 'employers' are customers.

    I used to be self employed myself for about 7 years and I could never see myself as representing anyone ECONOMICALLY like a genuine workplace rep in an organised workplace. While I accept that I could collectively organise with other self employed business people I accepted that I was always in competition with the same fellow self employed business people.

    Maybe we should have a self employed Trade Group in Unite. That would then be justified as per rule. But until then I would not want a self employed member representing me.

  6. david@dearunite.comFebruary 11, 2011 10:58 pm

    Ok but I am an elected representative of workers - I am elected branch sec of my branch which is an open branch. I do assist members of our branch in their workplace issues. Ray is also an elected branch sec.

  7. well lets hope that at this years rules conference there are successful motions to address the above?

  8. "The Executive Council decided that you were not eligible to stand for election at its meeting on 29 to 31 January 2011. The minutes of its meeting are not yet available."

    How is it worked out that Len is personally responsible? Surely the executive decided?
    Where is the rest of the letter?

  9. david@dearunite.comFebruary 15, 2011 12:13 pm

    "The Executive Council decided that you were not eligible to stand for election at its meeting on 29 to 31 January 2011. The minutes of its meeting are not yet available.
    Your e-mail 1 February 2011 has been dealt with by the Returning Officer in accordance with rule 16.
    Yours sincerely
    Len McCluskey
    Returning Officer"

    The Exec is Len. Candidates personally selected by the GS supporters club. Thats what we want to change.

  10. "the exec is len".

    Clearly your understanding of the union is a million miles to what most active members think.

    Good luck

    "Candidates personally selected by the GS supporters club"

    It gets worse.

  11. A couple of self serving members who represent no one quite rightly fall fail of being able to stand for the EC because they do not represent workers day in day out in a workplace.

    Professional self selected politicos jumping up and down and shouting its a len club, no its a Tony club and threats to run off to the courts no doubt using the tory anti trade union laws.

    Thankfully we have rules about who can stand which protects proper workers who are elected by their peers in their workplace to take on their bosses from being pushed aside by parasitical enterists who want to become committee jockeys and lord it over real workers.

  12. Dave. How are the Grassroots Left nominations going?

  13. What sort of question is that when you know nominations have closed? The Grass roots list is not as long, but at least Dave has followed his principles, unlike some who opposed McCluskey/UL and have now seen the light and jumped on the UL ticket.

  14. david@dearunite.comFebruary 17, 2011 4:02 pm

    I think all the GRL candidates have received enough nominations even those who have been banned (currently three!). However the union are only telling the candidates themselves and only if specifically asked by the candidate so am not certain yet.

  15. I think that this emphasis on the validity on the interpretation rule
    6.3 misses the point. Surely the real issue is that the EC should represent ALL sections of the membership. The membership includes the self-employed, the unemployed, including those facing repossession and the retired. How is it that those who receive maybe up to £3(or 4000) per week pay and perks can properly identify with those members who find it an increasing nightmare to pay basic household bills. The EC must be a forum for ALL sections of the membership not just for those who the "leadership" decides is worthy of representation.

    I wonder if the author of the posts under the name of "anonymous" maybe a one of those or a representative of those who are in receipt of a maybe up to £3(or 4000) per week pay and perks. Come on "anonymous" who are you.

  16. general secretaries are scum worse than the fat cats and greedy bankers ,you no why because they dont kidd on they represent you

  17. I see that the petty bourgeoisie are upset about not being able to stand as "representatives" of workers. "Anon" is right: the self-employed cannot, and should not, represent workers. Some leeway is already allowed under rule for the temporarily unemployed. That's as it should be.

  18. The interesting thing about this rule is that it doesn't prevent a taxi driver being the chair of the London & Eastern Regional Committee. I can't think of anyone more self-employed than a taxi driver, but for some reason they are exempt from this rule because they are 'organised' (i.e. they have time to do as much activity as they want because they control their work). Or is it because they all used to work on the buses and support the T&G left bureaucracy?

  19. If you want to read about what life is really like as a Unite employee, read my blog at

  20. AEEU recruit are you sure its not GPMU recruit?