Monday, 15 May 2017

Union Democracy

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Here's an interesting article by Kevin Schofield for PoliticsHome which reports on the elections to the ruling body of Unite.

Apparently a group known as the 'United Left' have suffered a big blow in that their majority on Unite's executive council has been reduced from 80% to just 54%.

Now I think it's probably fair to say that the politics of 'United Left' must be close to those of Jeremy Corbyn, much like the views of Len McCluskey who is one of the Labour leaders big supporters.

Few ordinary Unite members share this political outlook, yet apparently an incredible 80% of Unite's executive were 'United Left' supporters.

Given that trade unions are 'representative' bodies which are supposed to reflect the views of their members this does seem quite extraordinary.

Because while elections are central to any democratic institution they are by no means the only test of legitimacy or credibility.

Other vital checks and balances, in a trade union at least, is whether or not internal elections result in 'fair representation' and a leadership which, broadly speaking, reflects the wider union membership.

But with 80% Corbyn supporters (or even 54%) making all the big decisions, this is clearly not the case as far as Unite is concerned which is why it's pretty plain that the union been 'hijacked' by the far-left.  

And it's worth pointing out that the likes of Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly at home with this kind of unrepresentative trade unionism which is all about 'vanguards' and political elites manipulating union democracy for their own ends.

EXCL Blow for Len McCluskey as hard left have majority slashed on Unite's ruling body

By Kevin Schofield - PoliticsHome

Left-wing union activists have won the election to serve on Unite's ruling body - but have had their majority slashed, PoliticsHome can reveal.
Unite is hugely influential within the Labour party - Credit: PA Images

The vote to serve on the trade union's Executive Council took place alongside the general secretary ballot, which was won by Len McCluskey.

A copy of the final result has been passed to this website, and shows that the number of new EC members representing the 'United Left' faction has been drastically reduced.

Before the election, the group had around 80% of the ruling body's 63 seats.

But that has now been reduced to 54%, with 39 new members representing United Left, and 32 independents.

The result is significant because any changes to Unite's rules must be backed by 75% of Executive Council members.

A Unite source said: "United Left have lost a lot of seats and they have a shaky majority. It means Len McCluskey has lost the ability to change rules, which he had before. He no longer has a pliable EC."

Meanwhile, the Electoral Reform Services report into Unite's general secretary and Executive Council elections will be published today.

A copy of the report seen by PoliticsHome shows that turnout for the EC section of the ballot was less than 10% across the country.

For the general secretary election, a total of 1,062,049 ballot papers were sent out to union members, but only 130,071 were returned - a turnout of 12.2%.

Mr McCluskey beat his rival, Gerard Coyne, by 59,067 votes to 53,544 to win his third term in office.

The bitterly-fought contest was marred by controversy, with Mr Coyne being suspended from his role as the union's regional secretary for the West Midlands after polls closed.

Unite's acting general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The turnout in this important election can give no cause for satisfaction and while the tone of the campaign will not have helped, the underlying reason remains the archaic and expensive balloting system imposed on trade unions by law.

"The sooner we can move to secure and secret workplace and online voting the better for union democracy."