Jerry Hicks to challenge for Unite leadership

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Rank and file activist will stand for leadership of Britain’s biggest union

Jerry Hicks Unite
Len McCluskey, with the backing of two thirds of the Unite NEC, has called a ‘snap election’ for general secretary after just two years in office. While claiming this is to avoid a clash with a likely general election in 2015 (when McCluskey’s current term expires), there is a history of Unite union leaders calling elections half way through their term to put off challengers and get a trouble free extension of their time in office. Jerry Hicks, who came in second with 52,527 votes in 2010, has put paid to just such talk of a ‘coronation’ by declaring his intention to stand. With the election called out of the blue, and with the timetable hardly allowing any time at all for campaigning, it is tailor made to suit one member, McCluskey, above all others – 1.5 million others. Hicks has argued far from ‘seeking a mandate’ this is an affront to democracy. It means by holding the election in 2013 that 1.5 million members are being denied an election for general secretary in 2015, when they would have maximum influence over the Labour Party  in election year.

 

Hicks said:

I’ve decided to stand now the election process has begun in order that members do have a chance to vote and to present a positive alternative. Mr McCluskey talks about a co-ordinated fight against the assault on members’ pensions, jobs and conditions and of building a united campaign of resistance, and on that I agree. Yet when presented with an opportunity to do just that, Unite’s leadership chose instead to undermine the PCS and the NUT by not supporting the proposed coordinated strike action against the devastating attack on the pensions of health workers, MOD & government departments and local authority workers last March. That was a huge mistake. It’s not too late to start a serious campaign of opposition to the government cuts and attacks but it will take more than hot air at demonstrations.

Back in 2010, Hicks’ campaign was a breath of fresh in the union movement. He emphasised grassroots organisation, vowed to take not a penny more than the average workers’ wage, called for the election of all officials, pledged to defy the anti-unions with support for unofficial action, and to end the culture where the relationship to the Labour Party leadership was put ahead of fighting for the interests of ordinary members.

Since then he has been at the forefront of supporting the Sparks’ campaign of direct action from below, fighting for a new national agreement and against blacklisting. He can do the same again, but he will need a wave of support across the union to get on the ballot paper. There is only a six week nomination period from the 1st January to 15th February where branches and workplaces can meet. The deadline for nominations closes on the 22nd February – a timetable deliberately designed to put off challengers and ensure a coronation. If you are a Unite member get in touch with Jerry Hicks to register your support for his campaign, raise the nomination in your branch, and support a radical, fighting alternative to the bureaucracy.

Jerry Hicks can be contacted by mobile 07817827912 / email [email protected]

 

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