I attended the count today for the Unite (Amicus Section) Executive Council elections. The new Executive takes office in May. The outcome of these elections is important. Unite is the UK’s biggest union, and, as such, is enormously influential. The way the Union uses that influence obviously affects the lives of our own members – but also has a wider impact on the direction of the trade union movement, and the willingness of our trade unions to challenge a Labour Government that is pushing through some genuinely rotten policies.
I don’t have a full picture yet of the make-up of the Amicus Section Executive Council – and another 40 seats will be held by the TGWU Section.
In our Health Sector, though, the outcome was a good one. The two successful candidates were myself and Frank Wood – both serious and experienced trade unionists, both with a record as activists and campaigners in defence of the NHS.
We also have a strong commitment to defending lay control and democracy in our Union. We’ve seen a steady erosion of lay control over the last four years of Amicus. Lay control and democracy aren’t luxury items – a union where lay activists can set the agenda is a union that is far more likely to deliver for its members.
The worrying thing is a really low turnout – much lower in Health than in the last elections four years ago, but also looking like a more general picture. I think this reflects the real disengagement that so many of our members are now feeling. If you feel a part of a union, and you believe it can defend your job or get you a decent pay rise, you’re motivated to vote. If you believe the union’s irrelevant, why bother? A fundamentally important task for myself and Frank is to make Unite relevant, and to get lay members re-engaged.
We’ll do everything we can to deliver for members in Health. We obviously welcome invitations to speak at branch meetings, workplace meetings, and wider campaign events such as Keep Our NHS Public meetings. We’ll do everything we can to be accountable to members, and to report back what happens on the Executive Council.
Many thanks to those who supported this campaign.