Tuesday, 27 May 2008

General Secretary Election: Usdaw needs a democratic debate

Usdaw has announced the election for its General Secretary which is being held over the summer when many of the branches are not meeting so there won’t be a genuine debate that trade union democracy demands.

The results will be declared in September some seven months before John Hannett finishes his five year term in office. Usdaw’s members should be asking the General Secretary why is the election being held so early and why is there no time to fully debate the issues in an open and honest manner.

At the end of the year, the EC and president are up for election, so members should also be asking of the General Secretary how much the Union could save if the three elections were held at the same time.

Rather than a restricted campaign period, there should be a full debate on the future direction of the Union and this would help to improve turnout. At the last election less than 14% of the members voted, with John Hannett only receiving 6% support from the membership. We wonder if the summer election represents John Hannett’s fear of debating the issues in front of the members which also shows his lack of confidence.

Is the decision to hold the election over the summer in the interest of the Union? Now we have two election periods and it will divert resources away from the crucial work of the organising and recruitment campaigns necessary to build our membership

Another question John Hannett must answer, if he loses, and that is a possibility, will he resign and move over or will he hang on until his term is up.

From Activist supporters around the country we hear that John Hannett has planned a tour of the country visiting key sites. Let’s hope that the same facilities are offered to all the candidates standing in the election.

What is needed is a change of rule to ensure that future elections are democratic, there is a long enough period to allow the members to fully participate in the debate and importantly cannot to be called at the whim of the general secretary.

The Activist the email bulletin of Socialist Party members in Usdaw will now attempt to raise these issues and ensure there is a debate on the future direction of Usdaw.

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