Winning the future – post-COVID, post-BREXIT video launch by the United Left

Steve Turner Unite AGS
Steve Turner Unite AGS
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United Left launches its new recruiting video – please share and ask Unite members to join us

New members can join here

Our union has responded magnificently to the covid threat since March. Our warnings about the impact of austerity have been shown to be well founded. Poverty, bad housing, attacks on council services and the fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS have all contributed to the terrible impact of the virus. 

The disproportionate impact on B&AEM communities has spotlighted the institutional racism embedded in this society, along with all the other prejudices that prevent millions from reaching their full potential. The case for equalities at the heart of our union to challenge and destroy that status quo has never been more powerful. The only people who are “all in it together” are the Gates, Bezos and Zuckerberg’s, waking up in the morning billions of quid richer for contributing absolutely nothing to society.

The incompetence of Johnson’s Tory government has been exposed, although at far too high a cost. And we now stand on the precipice of a Tory no deal Brexit which will have a devasting impact on our UK manufacturing base and our members living standards.

Our movement now needs to adapt and strengthen. The three big unions, ourselves, Unison and GMB will all have new leaderships in place in 2021, starting with Unison as early as January. 

Many of the ideas which drove Unite since its inception in 2007 need to be re-evaluated, re-invigorated and developed. The process which led to the Unite merger began around 2004 and was formally completed on May 1, 2007. 

We had a Labour government in power for almost 10 years when we merged, and it would stay in power for a couple more. Since Len McCluskey has been elected there have been three general elections and the Tories have won them all.

The density of UK workers covered by collective agreements has fallen, many young people in the workforce are in precarious employment. This is before Brexit kicks in. Union membership is now around 6 million, a drop from 8 million in 2007.

Unite has recently been discussing a road plan for the internal administrative structures of the union. Just as important is to develop a lay new lay-member vision of how the union supports our members and organises the millions of unorganised workers employed in services, transport, distribution, the gig economy, and other sectors post-covid and post-Brexit. 

This is a project where Unite’s young members must be in the forefront of the debate. They are the ones with most to win or lose. 

“Winning the future” sums up the task of the moment. Do we want a centralised organisation remote from the workplaces and branches, one geared up solely to service a passive group of consumers, as already on offer by some unions, offering special offer deals on TV and radio? Or do we want resources and authority focused much closer to the workplaces, branches and locations where our members are active? Do we want to recruit “professional” outsourced services or develop the talent, commitment, and energy of our members from within our diverse union? 

Unite post-covid, post-Brexit must continue as a force for socialism politically and a strong independent voice for working people taking charge of their own destiny in advocating for a just transition, a new green deal and decent unionised jobs.  

We need to replace Britain’s broken economy with a radical people’s economy, based on strong construction, transport and manufacturing industries, getting rid of precarious employment, and offering apprenticeships and training for young workers in the UK and Ireland.

United Left is proud to be supporting Steve Turner as its GS candidate when Len and the EC agree the timetable for the GS election in 2021. Steve has the experience, the track record and the politics to reenergise and strengthen our union in the battles ahead. I would urge you to check out Steve’s track record of service and leadership, and to join with the UL to build his campaign.

Jim Kelly
Chair United Left