Faircloth bows out
THERE's a new turn in the affairs of the Amicus wing of the Unite union. Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite with the Transport and General's Tony Woodley, was forced to stand for re-election in Amicus because of a legal challenge from Bristol activist Jerry Hicks. As he promised he would, Jerry Hicks is contesting the position, and on January 16 he confirmed that he was standing, announcing nominations from branches around the country.
Meanwhile, however, the Amicus Unity Gazette and others who consider themselves the "broad left" announced their support for Laurence Faircloth,who has been regional secretary of the union in the North West, and more recently the South West.
"Laurence Faircloth is the future of Amicus Unite", said an announcement on the Labour Home site, and Bro.Faircloth told us:
"The present General Secretary has failed to deliver on the many important issues some mentioned above. Now he wants to carry on past 65 years of age, in contrast to the union seeking a shorter working life for our members. He opposed his predecessor Ken Jackson over the same issue. This election provides the opportunity to make a change for the better. If we continue with the status quo Unite will not succeed and our members in every sector will suffer. We must not allow this to happen".
Kevin Coyne, who had replaced Laurence Faircloth in the North West, also announced he was standing. Having been prominent in the ATU faction which was regarded as Blairite, mainly drawing support from the old finance union, and opposed to the requirement for election of full-time officers, Coyne is seen as the right-wing candidate.
Meanwhile, what of Jerry Hicks, who had provide this opportunity to make a change for the better? Somehow his name seemed to have slipped the memory of left-wing papers for whom Faircloth was now the man. Hicks candidature was not mentioned. In private, some people I asked criticised him for bringing the legal case, opportunity or not.
In the Unity Gazette ("for a democratic union controlled by the members"), Laurence Faircloth took a slightly different tack, on November 15:
Why am I standing?
The most important issue facing our union is how we face up to the worst economic recession for decades. Many members face job cuts, short-time working or attacks on pay and conditions. Defending our members must be the top priority for every union officer and activist.
Instead we have an election for General Secretary of the Amicus section. This is a complete distraction. So why is this election taking place? Because if Derek Simpson is to defer his retirement for a year, until he is 66, under law he must face an election".
In his blog, Laurence Faircloth set out his aims for making Unite a truly united, democratic, and fighting union, ready to face the attacks on members jobs and conditions and take up its international responsibility to the working class. In December it was announced that important nominations had come in from Greater Manchester branches.
The following announcement is headed simply "Standing Down":
I wish to thank all the branches, chapels ,Officers staff and workplaces reps and members that nominated me and also the Amicus Unity Gazette for their support.
I am also pleased that much of what I have put forward as my reason for standing has now been delivered by the Joint General Secretaries Derek Simpson, Tony Woodley and the N.E.C. with full integration of Amicus and T.G.W.U. sections of the Union now taking place.
After reviewing the nominations received by all the candidates and in consultation with the Amicus Unity Gazette Board, I have decided to withdraw from the election.
I will be recommending that Derek Simpson should receive the support of Amicus Unity Gazette.
We shall have to see what people and papers say. Any useful comments welcome.
Labels: trade unions