Unite election under starter’s orders

by - 25th February 2013, 9.00 GMT

Electoral_Reform_ServicesCampaigning begins in earnest this week in the election for general secretary of Unite.

It comes after Electoral Reform Services, which will run the poll, confirmed that two candidates, Jerry Hicks and the incumbent, Len McCluskey had both received more than the 60 branch nominations required to stand.

Len McCluskey – who was elected as the first general secretary of Unite following the amalgamation of the union’s Amicus and T&G sections – triggered the vote after calling on the national executive to allow him to seek a fresh mandate from members ahead of an expected Westminster general election in 2015.

He told UnionNews: “I’m putting myself forward to ask my membership to vote for me again so I can continue the work that I’ve been undertaking.

“I’ve been very privileged to be elected three years ago and the reason for running this time is to make it clear to everyone that, in these difficult times, I’ve no intention of leaving the battlefield.”

Jerry Hicks – who came second in the 2010 general secretary poll – says he does not believe the re-scheduled election is necessary, but is standing against Len McCluskey because otherwise the poll would be uncontested.

Speaking to UnionNews, he said: “If this election have been held in 2015, it would have given us maximum leverage with the Labour Party.

“We could have got a quid pro quo for our millions of pounds.

“But I am standing on a positive message, a ‘Len Plus’, in fact: more democracy, more members’ control, rank and file organisation throughout every sector of our union.”

The employment law specialist Professor Keith Ewing has been appointed election commissioner; Simon Hearn of ERS is the returning officer.

According to a timetable agreed by Unite’s national executive, voting papers will be sent out to members on 18 March.

The ballot closes on Friday 12 April 2013 and the winner is due to be announced on 15 April.

UnionNews will carry full-length interviews with both candidates later this week.

Follow us on Twitter @UnionNewsUK for updates.