Pro-Graham slate doesn’t stand and supporters abstain en masse as numbers stack up against them – and new chair moves quickly to hold elections to exec’s Finance and General Purpose committee, to alleged fury of general secretary
The United Left ‘Members First’ group swept the board of the senior positions today at annual general meeting of the Unite executive council (EC) – unopposed. Tilbury docker Andy Graham is the EC’s new chair, while the vice-Chair positions went to Pat Davies, an Equality Rep at Arriva South London bus company, and Michelle Smith from the CMA North East Yorkshire and Humberside.
The numbers clearly did not stack up for the slate supporting controversial general secretary Sharon Graham, as her slate candidates ultimately did not stand – leading to bizarre votes of 30 for the left slate candidates and 27 abstentions, results that gave a true reflection of the strong performance of the Members First slate, despite spin from Graham’s supporters after the EC elections that they had in fact won a majority.
The poor pro-Graham performance came despite ‘dark money’ spending on ads and several allegedly ineligible supporters being allowed to stand. The elections were also marked by revelations of racism among candidates supportive of Ms Graham and, after the election, by a leaked email showing one of her paid senior people trying to rally supporters on the EC in readiness for the AGM, a breach of union rules, as well as rebellion from the union’s British Airways section at alleged attempts to deprive them of their votes at the AGM.
New chair Green then tabled a vote on the EC’s F&GP (Finance and General Purpose) committee – to the alleged anger of Ms Graham – and the left performed similarly strongly there.
Graham’s tenure so far has been marred by allegations – which neither she nor the union have denied – that she attempted to have evidence destroyed in bullying and misogyny complaints about her husband, whom she now employs in her office despite a final warning from the union for his behaviour and by the union’s appalling treatment of Irish union legend Brendan Ogle, who is now taking legal action over Unite’s ‘disgusting’ abuse and bullying following his return from cancer treatment. Ogle did not support Sharon Graham in the union’s general secretary election and the union’s conduct toward him led to protests during Graham’s recent Dublin visit, outrage among Irish politicians and even threats from a whole sector to disaffiliate entirely.
United Left said today in welcoming the result that the group is:
focused on the need for an open and transparent union holding the administration to account. Today is a vindication of that platform.
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