By Socialist Alternative supporters in UNISON
The results for the NEC elections have been released, and there were steps forward for Time for Real Change left grouping, but also losses. It underlines that we need to build TFRC at all levels of our union in order to expand and develop the very real gains made by the TFRC-led NEC. It is vitally important and significant at the first meeting of the new NEC (due to take place at the end of the 2023 National Delegate Conference) that a left Presidential team is elected.
As the 2022 NDC showed, those opposed to the progressive direction of the TFRC-led NEC are going to fight tooth and nail to block the way forward. These elections were further proof of that. What is at stake here is whether we want a union that presents below-inflation pay deals as victories (as happened in the NHS) or one that can organise and deliver on the action needed for our members.
Gains for socialists
Socialist Alternative were proud to be part of the Time for Real Change election campaign and worked hard to get the vote out. Our two incumbent NEC members were reelected, with two new additions. Kevin Corran, a mental health worker from Greater Manchester, won the Health Male seat. David Jones, the branch secretary of Wirral UNISON, won the Local Government Male position, decisively beating both the candidate of the right and of the Socialist Party (SP have gone from 4 members to 1 on the NEC).
Tom Barker, SA member and TFRC candidate for the East Midlands Male seat, was just 158 votes off winning the seat at the first time of standing, coming second. Tom has been leading a strike at Ash Field Academy in Leicester, which has seen enormous picket lines of 70 UNISON members. The vibrant and dynamic campaign in this dispute clearly had an impact on the high vote for TFRC in this seat. We urge continued solidarity for this strike to give confidence to members, and to heap further pressure onto management.
This is a seat that could have been won by TFRC if there had been one left candidate (the SP stood and came last) The combined left vote would have comfortably beaten the right wing candidate.
NDC 2023 and beyond – building Time for Real Change
We need to use this conference to build our forces as TFRC. We need a big turnout at the TFRC rally on the Tuesday night of conference. We need to support all motions that will help build a democratic union, with a bold strategy to win gains for workers, while opposing those that are more of ‘business as usual’, and strengthening the power of right-wing senior officials of the union.
It is a disgrace that once again we are not allowed to even debate motions such as those that ask the union to consider the election of senior officers! And as mentioned, we have to do everything possible to elect a left President team.
Following conference, we need to build TFRC in every region, branch and workplace as a broad and democratic left organisation. There is a great desire for change in our union. SA firmly believes that TFRC, armed with a fighting strategy, would have the potential to harness and galvanise that desire, in order for UNISON to fill its huge potential in the fight against the cost of living crisis.