Left wins majority in UNISON national executive committee election

Elliot Chappell

Candidates on the left slate ‘Time for Real Change’ have gained a majority on the national executive council of the Labour-affiliated union UNISON in results published today, securing 40 out of the 68 seats up for grabs.

After members of the public sector workers’ union finished voting in the competition at the end of last month, UNISON has today revealed the new makeup of its most senior elected body with the successful candidates set to serve for two years.

The timetable and procedure for this election were agreed by a meeting of the NEC in December last year. UNISON has almost 1.3 million members, and those ​registered by February 4th were entitled to take part in the ballot.

Hopefuls in the council election submitted applications between January and March this year, and the nomination period for branches and other nominating bodies closed on March 5th. Voting began on May 4th and finished on the 27th.

The result follows Christina McAnea’s election as general secretary after the retirement of Dave Prentis. 36 of the left candidates elected today backed Paul Holmes in the contest earlier this year, while four supported Hugo Pierre.

McAnea, endorsed by Prentis, achieved 47.7% of the vote. She faced three rivals to the left of her: Pierre received 7.75%; Holmes, backed by John McDonnell, secured 33.76%; and Roger McKenzie, backed by Jeremy Corbyn, won 10.79%.

The NEC, along with general secretary McAnea, has the final say on taking industrial action and the election comes amid the ongoing row over NHS worker remuneration after the government announced a real-terms pay cut.

McAnea criticised the Budget delivered by Chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this year as being “strangely silent on public services” and has argued that “economic recovery and rescuing beleaguered public services should go hand in hand”.

Unite the Union is also currently engaged in a leadership election. Steve Turner, Sharon Graham, Howard Beckett and Gerard Coyne all secured the number of branch nominations required to qualify for the ballot paper earlier this week.

Concerns have been raised on the left that the three left-wing candidates, Turner, Graham and Beckett, could split the vote. In the 2017 vote, Coyne was backed by 41.5% of memebers in an effective two-way fight between him and Len McCluskey.

GMB members picked Gary Smith to lead the union last week, with Smith beating Rehana Azam and Giovanna Holt in its leadership election. He won just under 31,000 votes compared with almost 17,000 for Azam and 15,525 for Holt.

Results of UNISON national executive council elections

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