As the summer rolls on, the news is full of events which show the scale of the crisis we are in. The impact of the climate emergency is more and more evident (both globally and in the UK); government corruption is so obvious that even establishment press such as the Financial Times are reporting it; and as the Tories ready for a new round of austerity, hundreds of thousands fear for their jobs as the furlough scheme comes to an end and the Universal Credit uplift (which was not extended to all claimants in the first place) is due to be axed.
Although the vaccine programme has been very effective, thanks to the amazing efforts of frontline staff and volunteers, we are still seeing new cases of Covid running at over 20,000 per day, with hospitalisation and deaths rising. We don’t know the impact that Long Covid will have in future, but over 2 million people in Britain have been affected to date.
Structural inequalities, internationally and domestically, have been both starkly highlighted and made deeper over the past 18 months – women have borne the brunt of the lack of investment in childcare and in adequate support for disabled people, and have been hard hit by the impact on jobs in retail and hospitality sectors. Women are also a large part of the workforce in the NHS, education and health sectors, where workers struggling through the pandemic are being offered a pay freeze or an insultingly low increase.
We have been impacted in the home, as well as at work – some research puts the number of additional unpaid carers during the pandemic at over 4.5 million people – the majority of whom were women. The rise in domestic violence during the pandemic has been shocking, and even prior to the pandemic 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse in a single year.
This is a critical time for the labour and trade union movement – our unions are fighting to save our jobs, and to protect our health and safety at work. They have demonstrated the practical value of solidarity and the impact of collective action. When the Labour Party’s response has been timid, the left Unions have spoken out. This is resonating with people – the TUC has reported growth in union membership for the 4th year in a row.
In this context, the importance of the Unite the Union General Secretary election is huge. Under Len McCluskey’s leadership, the union has fought hard alongside its members and has built a strong presence in the workplace and within the wider movement.
Many members will have voted already, but as we know from the turnout last time, and from elections in other unions: there will be many members who are committed to their union, and have paid their subs for years, but who will not have voted yet.
This is an appeal to members who haven’t cast their vote, particularly women members, to dig out their ballot paper and to vote for Steve Turner. It can seem hard to choose between candidates, especially when you may never have met any of them, but you deserve a say in your union’s future and your vote really matters.
We need a General Secretary who is committed to working with members in every sector of the economy; who is passionate about the urgent need to create good quality green jobs and to lead on a just transition to an economy which is truly sustainable; who understands that many of our members will rely on Universal Credit to make ends meet, both in and out of work. We also need someone who addresses the ways in which people face additional barriers because they are women, from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled and/or discriminated against in other ways, and who values the contribution of all members – including those in industrial, community and retired branches.
Steve Turner is that candidate. The other two candidates are standing on platforms which present a false choice between focusing on either workplace organisation or political work, and which don’t address the wider social environment which impacts on us and on our communities.
Steve has an inspiring manifesto and a track record of working for fundamental change – tackling racism on the ground; opposing austerity and arguing for investment; and standing alongside those fighting for equality.
Only Steve has the positive vision and strategy to build solidarity across the membership by both tackling issues in the workplace and having a political strategy to defend our members’ interests, as well as helping to build community action to drive change.
He received the highest number of nominations from Unite’s branches across Britain and Ireland, and is supported by large numbers of the Union’s reps, young members, retired members, Executive Council members, officers and regional secretaries. His track record on equalities is solid, and he is someone who will help activists come together to bring about real and lasting change. Steve is the clear choice for anyone who wants to see Unite fighting for working people on all fronts.
Vote Steve Turner!