Unite General Secretary Election

Vote for Ian Allinson

Ian Allinson, the only genuine candidate in the forthcoming Unite General Secretary election writes:

Voting for Unite General Secretary and the Executive Council opens on 27 March, in less than two weeks. Members have a chance to shake up our union and make it stronger. You can help ensure we seize that chance.

The need for a stronger and more effective union could not be more clear.  On 1 March the Tories brought in their repressive Trade Union Act. Theresa May is treating migrant workers like hostages for her trade negotiations with the EU. And from sector to sector we are facing threats to employment and downward pressure on pay and conditions.

Thankfully, members are fighting back. For example:
  • We had a magnificent march for our NHS on 4th March (video of my interview there).
  • BA Mixed Fleet cabin crew continue their struggle against poverty pay and have taken nearly thirty days of strike action. Donations to their strike fund, payable to Unite the Union (write "Mixed Fleet Hardship Fund" on the back) can be sent to Unite the Union, 33-37 Moreland Street, London, EC1V 8BB.
  • Members at Fujitsu where I work started national strike action on 28 February and our next strikes are on 17, 24 and 27 March. Mine is one of the 1800 UK jobs Fujitsu hopes to cut. Here's more information including where you can find pickets and how to support us.
This coming Saturday I'll be on the TUC-backed March Against Racism in London. I hope you will be there, or at the marches in Glasgow and Cardiff. I've posted recently about the importance of the demo, why  migrants' rights are workers' rights, and my disappointment that neither of the two establishment candidates in this election are willing to join me in speaking up for freedom of movement and equal treatment when members and their families are under attack.

As voting approaches we are seeing mischief ramping up. Coyne's campaign seems focussed on giving our union a bad name in the press, making it harder for all of us to build the union in our workplaces and communities. I've now had to complain that McCluskey's campaign has personally emailed members of branches which nominated me, falsely claiming that their branch nominated him. It would be useful to understand the scale of this abuse, so if you have examples, please share them with me.

I'm keeping my campaign focussed on the policies and measures needed to strengthen our union so that we can match up to the onslaught members face to our jobs, pay, services and rights. You can read my pledges below.

I've said from the outset that whatever the result of the election, my campaign is aiming to strengthen our union, raising important arguments and building networks of those who want a stronger and more effective union. As well as securing 97 valid nominations (many doubted we could reach 50!) we are already achieving these goals to some extent. The more people who get involved the more we can achieve. If you support the campaign, please register your details so I can get you involved. Please like, follow, share and retweet on Facebook and Twitter. On the Facebook page you will also find details of some local events supporters are setting up.

Turnout in union postal elections is usually low. Any campaigning helps engage members and increases the chances of them bothering to vote. If you want leaflets to distribute, please get in touch. If you are able to, please donate to the campaign too - I don't have the resources of senior union officers with rich and powerful backers Unlike some with dodgy backers, my campaign finances are transparent - all donations are receipted and any member can inspect the records.

There's lots more information on www.ian4unite.org.

Ian's pledges

Communication, participation and a bottom-up union

  • Champion lay member democracy and participation, don't undermine it.
  • Fortnightly email bulletins direct to all activists, not filtered through officers and committees.
  • Support members being able to elect the officers who represent us. Not only would this increase accountability, it would reduce the power of patronage and the climate of fear in the union.
  • Tackle the non-functioning branches that deny members a voice and access to resources.
  • Oppose the exclusion of community and retired members from participation in Unite structures.
  • I'd keep my current wage, not the inflated General Secretary salary, to avoid giving the hostile media ammunition against us.
A stronger union, fit for the future
  • Involve members, officers and staff in a major review of Unite's structures to make them fit for purpose in the 21st century. Shift resources and power away from regions to better support the vast majority of Unite workplaces that are in employers spanning multiple regions. Improve support for company and sub-sector combine committees.
  • Encourage a spirit of experimentation in organising. Documents and publicise case studies of lessons from members’ organising and campaigning efforts and successes. We spend too much effort trying to reinvent the wheel.
  • A flexible facility for levies for strike funds etc, not restricted to where all members are in workplace branches.
  • Access to a Dispute Unit for all disputes from an early stage. All members in dispute should feel like they have a million members behind them, not be left to fend for themselves.
  • Expand the lay companion scheme to involve more members (including those not in paid work) and free up officer time from casework.
  • Overhaul education, which is essential for organising and changing the union's culture, in the light of funding cuts, and ensure fair treatment for our tutors.
  • Build on our organising success by increasing lay member involvement.
 Equality and young members' issues in our industrial agenda, not an optional extra
  • Champion workers' rights to move freely and be treated equally wherever we go. No concessions to racism or nationalism.
  • Integrate our equality and young members work better into our industrial agenda.
  • Tackle bullying and sexual harassment, including within our own union (also see report). Consultation over urgent implementation of the following measures: A review of all the union’s education and training for members and staff to raise the understanding of equality and diversity of everyone actively involved with the union; A review of the union’s women’s structures to ensure they provide a representative voice for Unite women, champion issues of particular concern to women, and provide a route to participation in Unite for members who face additional barriers due to sexism; Ending the requirement for Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer roles to be done as a part-job alongside an industrial allocation, so that equality issues have more focus and resource; Extending the recommendations of the Women Officers in Unite report to all women employed by union; A review of Unites grievance and complaints procedures to remove any bias against women who make complaints related to discrimination, bullying or harassment; Make equality and diversity a standing agenda item for all Unite’s constitutional committees.
 Campaign now: backing Corbyn shouldn't mean waiting for him
  • Extend Unite's support for Jeremy Corbyn, not only through Unite's role inside the Labour Party, but by grass roots campaigning and action which can win people over. Stop undermining him on key policies and calling his leadership into question.
 Fight for workers' rights, don't tail our employers' agendas
  • Organise regional conferences bringing together campaigns for civil liberties and against state repression, so that our opposition to anti-union legislation stops being isolated and ineffective.
  • Challenge the culture of partnership - we are not "all in it together". Post-Brexit Unite should be prioritising defence of workers' rights, not tailing employers' demands for free trade or protectionism.
  • Support a million climate jobs, not costly and destructive vanity projects like Trident, HS2, Heathrow expansion and Hinkley Point. Proactively fight for diversification to protect members whose jobs will be affected by changes such as climate change, changes in defence policy and automation. Call a conference of defence workers, the defence teams from Labour and the SNP, and experts on diversification.
  • Investigate the role of union officials in blacklisting members. Officially extend every assistance to the Blacklist Support Group in rooting out collusion and backdoor deals with the employers.

Unite Expensively Loses 'Inspection of Books' Case at Every Stage

The union strung out Karen Mill's inspection request as long as it could, with expensive lawyers, multiple Certification Officer hearings and finally an appeal against the Certification Officer's decision.

They lost at every stage.

The final case judgement is here:


Robin Allen QC.  Up to £5,000 per hour

Previous related story Complaints Complaints

Mandelson: I try to undermine Jeremy Corbyn every single day

Why do you want to just walk away and pass the title deeds of this great party over to someone like Jeremy Corbyn? I don’t want to, I resent it, and I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his tenure in office."

Something, however small it may be – an email, a phone call or a meeting I convene – every day I try to do something" 


John McDonnell wrote:

"WE HAVE TO ALERT PARTY MEMBERS and supporters that the soft coup is underway. It’s
planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced. It is being perpetrated by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for.

The coup is not being waged up front in public but strictly behind the scenes. Having learned the lesson of the last coup attempt - that a direct attack on Jeremy and his policies will provoke a backlash from many party members - the coup perpetrators are this time round pursuing a covert strategy.

The aim of these covert coup plotters is to undermine the support Jeremy has secured among Labour Party members, and also importantly to undermine support from Labour voters. Undermining support for Jeremy from Labour voters is important to the plotters because their objective is to ensure Jeremy trails in the polls and can’t win elections. In this way they can destroy morale among party members and their confidence in him.

The tactics include daily and constant behind-the-scenes non-attributable briefings against Jeremy and his Shadow Cabinet every time he or his shadow ministers make a statement, intervene in Parliament or launch a policy. The plotters use every opportunity to chip away at Jeremy’s standing to seek to demean him and undermine support for him in the Labour Party and among Labour supporters. This constant barrage of negative briefings also crowds out any positive initiatives or narrative from Jeremy and his team. It also feeds and confirms in the public’s mind that the Labour Party is split.The plotters are effective in distorting the media coverage because they have extensive contacts and allies in the media, many inherited from Mandelson’s days. The professional planning of interventions in which attacks to undermine Jeremy are framed evidences an exceptionally well resourced ‘dark arts’ operation of the old spin school. The coup plotters are willing to sacrifice the Party at elections just to topple Jeremy and prevent a socialist leading the Party. It is more important to them that they regain control of the Party than it is to win elections.

The irony is that they are willing to go so far in denigrating Jeremy that they endanger their own parliamentary seats and endanger the very existence of the party they want to use to get into power. We saw the methods they use with the leaking of the Party’s internal polling. This was a carefully planned and executed operation. Let’s use it as a case example.

Both quantitative and qualitative polling is undertaken by the Party regularly under the direction of Jon Trickett, the Party’s National Campaign Co-ordinator. Jon arranged for one focus group to be carried out by the Party’s polling agency in Manchester to assess how our frontbench members appearing on television programmes at the time were being perceived in the north west. This polling took place back in November and its results were only accessible to a small number of party officials, Jon Trickett and the polling agency. To this day I have still not seen the results. The polling was leaked by someone to James Lyons, a Times journalist who has regularly received leaks from within the Labour Party - usually used to attack Jeremy and his team.

The Murdoch media had already run earlier in the week fake news stories in The Times and Sun alleging that Jeremy was planning to stand down as leader of the Party. No matter how many times it was explained that this story was completely untrue and absolute fiction, the The Times and Sun continued to run it - and the BBC and other broadcast media took it up and reported it extensively. The media then invented the story that the polling on the perception of Shadow Cabinet members in the north west was the Party testing the perceptions of potential successors to Jeremy.

This was a classic negative story framing and transmission exercise. It is just one example of what we confront on a weekly and at times almost daily basis. It is vitally important that our supporters understand and appreciate what we are facing. What we are experiencing is completely predictable and expected. Spreading that understanding of what we are up against enables us all to organise how we can fight back and overcome the soft coup strategy.

We all have an important role to play in explaining what we are facing and how, by standing together, we can defeat the plotters again. This is the testing time for the Corbyn transformation. The challenges are great and the times are tough - but we all know that this is the socialist opportunity of a lifetime.