Establishment candidates for Unite leadership “abusing power”

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, highlights abuses of power by both establishment candidates which are undermining democracy.

Democracy means the rule of the people. As a union’s power comes from the participation of members, democracy is not an optional extra. Yet both Coyne and McCluskey are acting as if our union is the plaything of a tiny numbers of senior officers, sacrificing democracy in their pursuit of power. Democracy requires that any member be able to contest a General Secretary election. Yet both establishment candidates are abusing their position and power to deny members a fair choice.

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March against racism on Saturday, vote ian4unite from 27th March

Ian Allinson, the only candidate for Unite General Secretary arguing for workers’ rights to move freely and be treated equally, urges members to join Saturday’s march against racism.Leaflet "March against racism"

Today we saw Theresa May’s government defeat Lords amendments intended to protect the rights of EU migrants living in the UK. The Tories are treating migrant workers like hostages, held to ransom for its trade negotiations.

Every trade unionist should be joining Saturday’s March Against Racism in London, Glasgow and Cardiff, which is supported by the TUC.

The impromptu protests around Trump’s inauguration were inspiring. They showed the potential for a powerful movement against racism, sexism and bigotry – and blew out of the water the idea that young people are apathetic. We need to ensure that energy is sustained and organised. Saturday’s demonstration can contribute to that process – as long as it is a springboard to further action rather than a letting-off of steam.

The question of workers’ rights to move freely and be treated equally is not going away. While the two establishment candidates in the Unite General Secretary election fudge and backslide on it, I have made it an important theme of my campaign.

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Ian Allinson announces radical proposals for Unite the Union on International Women’s Day

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, has announced a range of radical proposals to promote equality and challenge discrimination against women in the union.Ian talking with women activists

Last year’s “Women Officers in Unite” report showed that many women officers working for the union experienced bullying and harassment that they felt was inadequately dealt with by the union. The report had significant implications for other union employees and for women members. The proposals Allinson has announced are:

  • A review of all the union’s education and training for members and staff to raise the understanding of equality and diversity of everyone actively involved with the union
  • A review of the union’s women’s structures to ensure they provide a representative voice for Unite women, champion issues of particular concern to women, and provide a route to participation in Unite for members who face additional barriers due to sexism
  • Ending the requirement for Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer roles to be done as a part-job alongside an industrial allocation, so that equality issues have more focus and resource
  • Extending the recommendations of the Women Officers in Unite report to all women employed by union
  • A review of Unites grievance and complaints procedures to remove any bias against women who make complaints related to discrimination, bullying or harassment
  • Make equality and diversity a standing agenda item for all Unite’s constitutional committees

The measures will be put out for consultation and implemented as an urgent priority if Allinson is elected as Unite General Secretary.

Allinson said:

“Women still experience lower pay than men and worse promotion opportunities. Employment is highly segregated, with women over-represented in low paid, insecure, caring, cleaning and sales jobs. Women are still largely excluded from other industrial and occupations.”

“Fujitsu, where I work, has a largely male workforce and we are currently having to take industrial action to try to force the company to come clean about huge pay inequalities and work with the union to tackle them.”

“While unions play a vital role in challenging discrimination, we have to do more to put our own house in order. Women want our union to be better than the sexist society they live in.”

“Three years ago when I was on the Executive Council we had to overturn Len McCluskey to agree a proposal from Unite’s National Women’s Committee that education about what women’s oppression is should be compulsory for Unite’s tutors and elected officials.”

“Last year’s report shows how far we still have to go. It is not acceptable that women are still facing sexism within our union and not having confidence in support when they raise or challenge it. Women involved in the union have asked that I make this a priority issue. As soon as I am elected I will invite all Unite’s women members, representatives and staff to give their views on the proposals I am suggesting.”

“We must make Unite a more equal and welcoming environment for women. We can’t afford to waste the energy and expertise of women members. Real change in our union is vital if we are to properly tackle the inequalities women face at work.”

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Unite leadership challenger Ian Allinson welcomes McCluskey u-turn on council cuts

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, has welcomed a u-turn by Len McCluskey over opposition to council cuts and called on Gerard Coyne, the right-wing candidate, to follow suit.Ian speaking on microphone on picket

Len McCluskey, the outgoing General Secretary of Unite who is hoping to be re-elected next month, is reported to have told a public rally in Leicester:

“The idea at the moment is that there are huge reserves that Councils have. Particularly in many of the Conservative shires but within Labour Councils as well there are significant amounts of reserves. There is an argument that says that Labour Councils should use those reserves in order to stave off cuts, or certainly the most damaging of cuts, until such time as relief arrives, or until such time as the cavalry arrives over the hill. And we support that.”

Allinson said:

“I welcome this u-turn from Len McCluskey. The Unite leadership’s opposition to this policy last year made campaigning against the huge local authority cuts imposed by the Tory government more difficult.”

“A serious attempt to stop the cuts would require industrial, political and community campaigning. It would mean putting industrial action against the implementation of cuts on the agenda – not just leaving it to a few councils where members have managed to push for this under their own steam. It would mean demanding that Labour councillors work with unions and their communities to campaign against the budget cuts being imposed by the Tory government rather than, in most cases, meekly implementing them. Members in local authorities and involved in local anti-cuts campaigns should work to put this into practice immediately and demand that Unite’s leadership backs them.”

“Members will also want to know what Coyne, the right-wing candidate, has to say. Will he join us in opposing cuts? Or would the be a step too far for his Blairite backers – the people who saddled public services with massive PFI debts to the private sector and who are more concerned with pursuing their own careers and cosying up to business than representing working class people?”

McCluskey’s speech reverses a 2016 policy conference decision he fought for. Allinson argues that this illustrates the top-down culture in Unite, McCluskey’s lack of respect for democracy, and the dangers of operating by maneouvre rather than principle. This unnecessary General Secretary election, arranged for his benefit (for the second time), is another sign of how McCluskey manipulates our union’s democracy to suit himself.

Allinson went on:

“We can have no repeat of the experience of 2013 when McCluskey’s anti-cuts election rhetoric was never delivered. Members need to get active to ensure we develop a serious plan to fight the cuts. We can’t depend on McCluskey, we have to depend on ourselves and each other.”

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Unite General Secretary candidate Ian Allinson to join #ourNHS demonstration on Saturday

Tens of thousands will march on Saturday in defence of our National Health Service. With them will be Ian Allinson, the only Ian speaking on microphone on picketworkplace activist standing for Unite General Secretary.

Allinson said:

“I’m proud to be marching. And I’m proud Unite are backing this demo. Our NHS is a precious public service. Theresa May and the Tories have promised Donald Trump that the NHS is for sale to US multinational companies. We can’t let that happen.”

“As Unite general secretary I will escalate the campaign to defend the NHS. Unite is a union of 1.4 million members. All of us, whether health workers or not, have a stake in the provision of decent health care – we have to fight back”

“Junior doctors were absolutely right to fight against Hunt’s contract: we will need more strikes and more solidarity. There should have been nationwide demonstrations of support, but McCluskey left them to fight alone.”

“There’s another message that I want to bring on Saturday: immigrants built our NHS and it wouldn’t survive a day without them. In every hospital the compassion and expertise comes from all over the world. We cannot give an inch to arguments that say migrants are to blame for its failures. Underfunding and privatisation are responsible.”

“Many people know the Aneurin Bevan quote that the NHS will last as long as there are folk left with faith to fight for it. Fewer people know that Bevan railed against the right using the notion of health tourism to argue against the NHS. In 1952 he said that the Tories were trying to exploit the most disreputable emotions in order to discredit socialised medicine. We need to remember that today. We need unity, not scapegoating, if we are to successfully defend our NHS”.

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Ian Allinson calls on Len McCluskey to urgently clarify his position on Corbyn’s leadership

Ian Allinson calls on Len McCluskey to urgently clarify his position on Corbyn’s leadership

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, has called on Len McCluskey, (incumbent General Secretary) to give an unambiguous statement about his support for Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest possible opportunity.

Photo of Ian Allinson

Since the loss of Labour’s parliamentary seat in Copeland the attacks on Corbyn have continued.

Allinson said:

“Gerard Coyne, the candidate who claims he wants less Westminster power games, lost no time in hypocritically undermining Corbyn, in line with the views of his backers from the Labour right. They conveniently forget that it was New Labour that eroded Labour’s base, lost it Scotland, and turned safe seats like Copeland into marginals. Turning back the clock offers no answers”.

Len McCluskey has not issued a statement on continued backing for Corbyn despite increasing calls for clarity.

Allinson said:

“Len McCluskey needs to end the confusion about how reliable his support for Corbyn is, and whether that will continue if he is re-elected. He is avoiding giving a direct answer to questions on this, even with all the rumours of a ‘soft coup’.”

“My policies challenge some of the powerful vested interests that McCluskey wants support from. On green jobs, trident, nuclear power and freedom of movement my vision for Unite aligns with Corbyn’s values. There are big differences between me and the two establishment candidates. That may be why Len is hedging his bets and avoiding making a clear statement on his support for the Labour leader”.

Allinson argues that the pressure on Corbyn is about much more than leadership:

“Corbyn’s policies challenge the rich and powerful in the interests of the vast majority. Anyone doing this would face hostility from the establishment media and from Labour MPs so out of touch they voted for the Tory Welfare Bill. The answer isn’t to abandon attempts to stand up for working class people. The answer is to build resistance in our workplaces and communities now. And if some Labour MPs see attacking Corbyn as a higher priority than challenging the Trade Union Act then it’s time Unite acted on its conference policy of making MPs stand for democratic reselection”.

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Unite leadership candidate Ian Allinson says “This is a three horse race”

Candidates in the Unite General Secretary election campaign have today received official confirmation of branches and workplaces that nominated them.Photo of Ian Allinson

Ian Allinson, the only grassroots candidate in the election, received a total of 97 nominations including 21 workplace nominations.

Allinson said:

“This election is clearly a three horse race. The number of nominations I have is very impressive for a grassroots candidate”.

“The other two candidates are well placed in the union machine, Len McCluskey is the incumbent General Secretary and Gerard Coyne has been West Midlands Regional Secretary for fifteen years. Their campaigns have funding and resources to match.”

“We live in an era of political upsets – we should rule nothing out in this election. Gerard Coyne doesn’t seem to be quite the right wing threat that the press have been talking up.”

“My nominations have come from members who want to see a more serious fightback and workplace issues brought forward in the union. They come from members who want brave leadership on issues they care about, green jobs, defending of refugees and migrants, and improving equality and diversity within Unite itself”.

Yesterday Ian Allinson was on the picket line at his own workplace, Fujitsu in Manchester, as part of a national strike over job cuts, union recognition, pay and pensions.

On Saturday Allinson will join the #ourNHS demonstration in central London.

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Statement by Unite leadership contender on new Trade Union Act, which comes into force today

Theresa May’s Trade Union Act 2016 comes into force today, Wednesday 1 March. The legislation will make it significantly harder for workers to take action against their employers.

New ballot thresholds require a turnout of over 50%. In ‘important public services’ not only must a majority of voters support action, but 40% of those eligible to vote must vote ‘Yes’ too. Many MPs failed to get such an endorsement, even without the cumbersome ballot process unions have to follow.

The number of days’ notice unions have to give of a strike has doubled to 14. Striking workers are now required to nominate a picket supervisor in advance. Ballot mandates now expire after six months, or nine months by employers’ permission.

All of this will make taking industrial action more difficult.

Yesterday, on the eve of the Act coming into effect, Ian Allinson, the only grassroots candidate for Unite General Secretary, participated in a nation-wide strike at Fujitsu.

Ian Allinson with big group of pickets outside Fujitsu Manchester. Banner reads "Fighting 4 jobs"
Ian Allinson on Fujitsu Manchester picket 28 February 2017

The dispute at Fujitsu is over 1800 proposed job cuts across the UK, union recognition, pay, and pensions.

Allinson said:

“in our dispute at Fujitsu we have already had to adjust our plans because of the new law.”

“These laws are designed by a Tory government to make things easier for the employer. They are laws that make it harder for those fighting low pay, job cuts and attacks on pensions to resist.”

“Our unions cannot allow themselves to be shackled by these laws, we cannot allow this to prevent members defending their livelihoods. Ordinary members will find themselves outside the law. Unite should be prepared to back them and defy these unjust laws rather than see our members’ terms and conditions run into the ground. This requires serious preparation, now.”

“It’s important to say we would not be here today were it not for the pitiful campaign by the unions, including Unite, against the Trade Union Act”.

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Ian Allinson accepts nomination and issues new leaflet

After a vibrant campaign meeting on Saturday I have now submitted my acceptance of nomination for Unite General Secretary.

I discussing with members

Now nominations are behind us, we’ve produced a new campaign leaflet, which you’ll find on the Resources page of this web site. It’s being printed up this week and bundles will be available on Saturday’s NHS demo, where I hope to see many supporters. If you can’t make it please email ian4unite@gmail.com and we can get a bundle to you.

We also need a big push on fundraising. We will be spending thousands of pounds on printing and postage. Having used annual leave for the nomination period I’ve requested some unpaid leave from work. There will be travel costs, meeting rooms and much more. The other candidates are well-paid from our subs and have rich backers. In contrast, I’m on strike again tomorrow at Fujitsu as one of thousands whose jobs are on the line and who are fighting to extend union recognition.

If you want to shake up Unite and make it a stronger union, get involved!

Thank you card from Bristol Health reps/members showing names

The only union funds which I can accept are from branches which have nominated me. Otherwise it’s down to individual donations and collections. Members at Bristol Health branch took a collection which they sent me along with this lovely card. If you want to do something similar there’s a collection sheet on the resources page too. You can donate online or send a cheque payable to Ian Allinson to me at 11 Germain Close, Higher Blackley, Manchester, M9 0SQ. All donations are receipted and any member can inspect the campaign finances.

Ian Allinson WILL be on the ballot paper for Unite General Secretary

Yesterday Unite sent me the official notification that I have passed the 50 nominations required to be a candidate in the General Secretary election. I know of many more branches and workplace that have nominated me but whose nominations have not yet been received and accepted. If you haven’t yet submitted your nomination (online is best for branches, workplaces have to do it by post) please do so right away.

Photo of Ian Allinson
Photo: Steve Eason

This whole election was arranged to benefit one candidate who wanted to cling on to office. It was called unexpectedly. The nomination period was halved. Despite stepping down so that Gail Cartmail is Acting General Secretary during the election, Len McCluskey continues to be promoted by Unite through press releases, statements and events. Running a campaign on a shoe-string I have faced two wealthy opponents with powerful backers. Yet members have decided that there will be a real contest. This election will not be reduced to a choice between more of the same with McCluskey, or turning the clock back politically and industrially with Coyne. Instead, members will be able to debate how to make our union stronger and more effective.

If we are to shake up Unite, this can only be done collectively. If you agree with what I’m standing for, get involved. If you haven’t already done so, please register using this form so that the campaign team can put you in touch with others in your sector or region. The campaign will be holding an organising meeting for supporters (not a public meeting) on Saturday 25th February in London where we can discuss how the campaign has gone so far and plan our next steps. If you’re a supporter – please come along.

The next phase of the campaign will be on a far bigger scale than nominations. We will need more leaflets, more events and more visits to workplaces. All this will require money. I’ve used most of my year’s annual leave on the campaign already. As a grassroots member I’m in no position to fund the campaign myself. If I can raise the money I hope to get unpaid leave to take the campaign round the UK and Ireland. Individuals can donate. You could take a collection in your workplace or branch. Branches which have nominated me can also donate.

Members have already sent a shockwave through Unite by getting me on the ballot paper. This wasn’t supposed to happen, but it has. Who knows what else is possible…