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.

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