Unite make plans to call a snap election for General Secretary. But why?

Press release: Press release: Press release: Immediate: 02/12/2012

 Unite make plans to call snap election for General Secretary. But why?

The time table of this ‘snap’ election could begin as early as next week. It is expected that at Tuesday’s [4th December] National Executive meeting approval will be sought to begin the process of the election. The machinery can commence to issue notice to the membership, with the branch and workplace nomination period likely to be January and February.

The postal ballot of over one million members could begin as early as the middle of March 2013.

Len McCluskey became General Secretary of Unite as recently as November 2010 meaning that he has so far only served 2 years of his 5 years term of office.

During McCluskey’s election just 2 years ago it was generally regarded that he would be a one term [5 years] General Secretary, neither he nor his supporters did anything to dispel the illusion.

So why is this happening 3 years early? After all McCluskey could stand again in 2015 as a matter of course. However if he did and won a further 5 years in office that would take him to the age of 70 and advisors think that the union’s members would not be too happy to have a General Secretary working past normal retirement age.

So by dragging the election forward he could run, win, serve a new term of 5 years taking him to 67, thus avoiding that and a number of other issues. Namely the Government proposals of retirement age of 68.

Add all this to the biggest ‘plus’ for McCluskey and his followers, that by using all the union’s machinery to push through at ‘break neck speed’ an election 3 years early makes it almost impossible for anyone else to have anywhere near an equal chance as McCluskey, given the incredibly short time scale and the cost of simply mailing branches which runs to thousands of pounds. Thereby virtually ensuring him a smooth ride, maybe even unopposed.

McCluskey seeking another term makes a mockery of the merger rumours between Unite and the PCS with Mark Sewotka taking over from McCluskey, rumours spread by both hierarchies. 

It would also cheat the membership out of an election in 2015 when it’s also the year for the next Parliamentary General Election. Unites ‘one way’ relationship with New Labour is an increasing source of criticism of his leadership, so in a General Election year a debate about it might be a problem for McCluskey.

Jerry Hicks, runner up in the previous 2 elections for General Secretary said “Our Union has a long and discredited history of general secretaries trying to cling on to power beyond the age of 65. There was Ken Jackson, and then Derek Simpson, now Len McCluskey wants some more of it.”

Jerry Hicks went on to say “This is just not right, it’s completely unnecessary and verging on abuse of power. It sets the wrong example, shows the wrong leadership and sends the wrong message that raising the retirement age is OK. It’s not! We should be seeking to lower the retirement age for working people, to end the scourge of high unemployment especially amongst the under 25s. 

Notes to editor: Jerry Hicks was runner up to McCluskey in 2010 securing 52,527 votes he can be contacted by mobile 07817827912 or email 

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