Bad arguments against supporting Ian Allinson for Unite General Secretary

Perhaps the strangest thing about the campaign so far is the failure of the other candidates or their supporters to engage with the ideas I’m putting forward for making Unite more effective.

Photo of Ian Allinson
Photo: Steve Eason

Do they agree that we need fortnightly email bulletins to all activists, not filtered through officers and committees? Would creating case studies of members’ successes to save us wasting so much effort trying to reinvent the wheel be a good idea? Do we need to restructure the union to provide better support for the 80% of workplaces in employers that span multiple regions, and where our organising is currently so much less effective? Do we need to build a civil rights movement to challenge an increasingly repressive state rather than fighting anti-union legislation in isolation? Do we need to integrate our equality work better with our industrial agenda?

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Oppose scapegoating of migrant workers – unity is strength

Mug reads "controls on immigration: I'm voting Labour"

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, argues that McCluskey’s fudge on free movement stops him effectively defending members from the damage caused by Coyne’s attack on workers’ rights to free movement and equal treatment.

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Will Unite break its own election rules?

Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, is calling on Unite to stick to its own election rules, and on Len McCluskey and Gerard Coyne to agree to livestreamed hustings so that members can make up their minds on the strength of the arguments about the pressing issues we face.

This General Secretary election shouldn’t even be happening. For the second time Len McCluskey has forced an early election, resulting in timing that benefits only one candidate, himself. Only he knew the election was coming, so only he was unaffected by the compressed timescale for the campaign and nominations.

Almost all the information about the election process has been removed from the Unite web site, but I was sent a copy of the ballot guidelines by email in response to a request.

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Ten ways you can support Ian Allinson for Unite General Secretary

Ian Allinson, standing as a workplace activist, doesn’t have the resources of the establishment candidates who are well-paid from members’ subs and have powerful backers. If you want things to change, please get involved.Elect Ian for UNITE Gen Sec

Get in touch via the leave your details form, email ian4unite@gmail.com or phone 07985 438 553 to offer whatever help you can. For example:

  1. Email details if you are willing to publicly endorse Ian Allinson for Unite General Secretary.
  2. Request leaflets and other campaign materials – the campaign can suggest local workplaces you could contact.
  3. Like, follow, share and retweet on social media (Facebook, Twitter)
  4. Campaigning costs money. Can you donate or collect money? There’s a collection sheet here. Members can donate either via www.donorbox.org/ian4unite, or by cheque payable to Ian Allinson, 11 Germain Close, Higher Blackley, Manchester, M9 0SQ. Branches can only donate after nominating. Donations will be receipted. Any member can inspect the campaign finances.
  5. Suggest people the campaign should contact and provide their contact details. And why not contact other Unite members or activists yourself?
  6. Contact local media to promote the campaign.
  7. Send in your ideas for how Unite could improve.
  8. Let us know when your nomination meeting will be. Invite Ian or someone from the campaign to speak at your branch or workplace meeting, or to visit your workplace.
  9. If you want to nominate from your workplace, request nomination forms from your Regional Secretary from 2 January.
  10. Secure a nomination from your branch and/or workplace (see how to nominate me)

If you are campaigning for Ian, please stick to the rules and keep it constructive. The aim of the campaign is to improve Unite and encourage participation – personal abuse discourages participation.

Unite general secretary candidates should join me to champion workers’ rights to free movement

There has been a very positive response to Unite General Secretary candidate Ian Allinson’s article in the Guardian yesterday defending workers’ freedom of movement, and explaining why Len McCluskey’s approach gives too many concessions to the racists and nationalists.

What is even more worrying is the silence from Gerard Coyne on the question. He is being backed by many of Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour Party, the people who brought us the infamous “racist mug”. As if people motivated by fear of immigration would vote Labour as a result.

Mug reads "controls on immigration: I'm voting Labour"Ian ended the article:

“No general secretary candidate should chase votes by undermining the unity members need to defend their jobs. I am calling on Len McCluskey and Gerard Coyne to join me in championing workers’ rights to move freely (not just within the EU) and opposing any employment restrictions based on nationality.”

So far at least, neither of the two establishment candidates for General Secretary seem willing to take a clear stance for equality on this question. They really should.

McCluskey in disarray on free movement of workers

Freedom of movement banner
Photo: Rasande Tyskar, flickr

When I launched the campaign for General Secretary of Unite on Thursday evening, Len McCluskey’s backsliding on free movement of labour was one of the issues I raised. Little did I know how the issue would explode yesterday, with McCluskey and his supporters in full denial mode.

This is not a new issue. Even before the Brexit referendum, McCluskey described EU migration as a gigantic experiment at the expense of ordinary workers. At the Unite Policy Conference shortly after the referendum, I moved an emergency motion from my industrial sector which defended free movement. McCluskey and the Executive Council opposed this in favour of a woolly executive statement that called for a “debate” on free movement.

Since then McCluskey has set out his position in various places, including a speech for the think tank CLASS.

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Ian Allinson to stand against McCluskey and Coyne for Unite General Secretary

Ian Allinson
Ian Allinson

I have decided to seek nominations for the General Secretary election. It is essential that this election does not become a battle between Len McCluskey, offering more of the same, and Gerard Coyne, offering to turn the clock back to the bad old days when our union backed New Labour even while they attacked our own members – and saw membership decline. If members want to see a Corbyn government, Unite needs to shift the debate by fighting in workplaces and communities now, rather than relying so heavily on internal battles within Labour. This is the second time that Len McCluskey has foisted a premature election on us based on a false premise. Many activists recognise the election timetable as an undemocratic manoeuvre which minimises members’ voice.

I’ve been a workplace activist for 25 years at Fujitsu, building up the union in a largely unorganised industry. I led the first national strike in my industry in 2009-10. For ten years I served on the union’s executive before stepping down in 2014. I’m chair of Unite’s UK combine in Fujitsu, where my own workplace is currently in dispute and taking strike action over pay, pensions and job security. Nationally we’re fighting against job cuts from automation and offshoring.

Members have fought off attempts to victimise me and other reps. Unlike the two establishment candidates, I’m in the workplace, at the sharp end like the thousands of other reps and activists who make Unite the fighting union it is today.

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