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Elect Jerry Hicks – build a rank and file movement in Unite

Jerry Hicks has got 136 nominations for his candidature in the Unite General Secretary election – an unprecedented number for a rank and file candidate. So there will be an election and 1.5 Unite members will have a choice.

The success of the nominations campaign shows there is strong backing in Unite for a challenge to Len McCluskey’s leadership. It will be particularly unnerving for McCluskey, who called the unnecessary election at extremely short notice after making sure he would face no rival candidate from a fellow official, another bureaucrat.

The fight is on

McCluskey has called the election two years early solely to prevent a clash with the Labour general election campaign in 2015. The Unite bureaucracy doesn’t want the embarrassment of workers discussing why their union has given £6million to Labour – a party, which refuses to back strikers, supports real wage cuts, and kept the anti-union laws in place.

We need a change of strategy and a change in how the union works. Jerry Hicks is calling for the election of all officials – a vital first step in giving power back to ordinary members. Every official should be subject to immediate recall the minute they misrepresent the wishes of their members, sell out strikes or sign rotten deals behind our backs.

If elected Jerry will take only the wage of an average Unite member – £26,000, not the six-figure salary McCluskey trousers. Making all officials take the average wage of those they represent will cut the roots of a bureaucracy, which is completely out of touch with the decline in members’ living conditions.

The power of the Unite bureaucracy is stifling members’ ability to effectively defend their jobs, pay and conditions. A democratic revolt from below is the first step, if members are going to make Unite leaders defend their interests instead of selling them short.

Elect Jerry Hicks

With thousands of car workers facing redundancy, the NHS being privatised and cut to shreds, and construction workers being blacklisted for basic union activity, we need a real fighting General Secretary in Unite.

In the last election Jerry got 50,000 votes and came second. We need to improve on thatsuccess but the highest stake is not the General Secretary’s seat – it’s the opportunity to strengthen the ability of ordinary members to have democratic control over decisions which affect them.

Across the country, activists are forming Elect Jerry Hicks committees to coordinate the campaign and link up grassroots members in different workplaces and struggles.

The success of the campaign depends on our ability to strengthen these committees, which can form the basis of a grassroots activists movement. Jerry aims to establish rank and file organisation – like the electricians or “Sparks” have done – in every sector in Unite. Maybe then – like the sparks have done – we can start to win victories against the government and the bosses.

Unite is the largest union in Britain. What it says and does will have a decisive impact in any struggle against cuts, privatisation and unemployment.

Its members have a right to expect that their leadership listens when they say “enough is enough”. We urge all members to join their local Elect Jerry Hicks committee and organise to make sure that the message about rank and file control gets heard in every workplace, branch and dispute.

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