In the recent EC Elections held on the 18th June I wanted to comment on the very low turnout in most of the sectors and analyse briefly why this happened. The URF has always campaigned for a real democratic union but at the moment it still remains in the hands of a bureaucratic elite.
In the regions there were contests in the following regions : Ireland, Scotland, North East Yorkshire and Humberside, South East, Wales and West Midlands. Of course voting in territorial elections is restricted to working members only.
In the regions there was an average of a 6.2% turnout. It was better in the Industrial sectors where there were contests in 9 of the sectors again with an average turnout of 6.2%. At the last Rules Conference it was resolved to have equality representatives elected onto the EC. There were only contests in BAEM and Retired Members. LGBT, Women and Young Members were uncontested as well 10 Industrial sectors and 4 Regions without a contest. Of course if you are a Community Member, Unemployed or a student you do not have a vote in these Elections at all. The Retired Members sector where I stood had the highest poll 19% which shows that Retired Members are very active.
The reason for the low poll in the Industrial sectors is that in a union like Unite which has strong bureaucratic apparatus, members feel that they have no say in most decisions. All Officers, National Officers and assistant General Secretaries are appointed either on the recommendation of the Executive Council or the General Secretary. They are not accountable to the membership because they have not been elected. Members therefore consider these elections an irrelevancy and it has nothing to do with apathy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Unite enormously with the threat of layoffs redundancies and sackings. BA Workers are threatened with sackings and or redundancies. In Passenger Transport, 44 Bus drivers have died from coronavirus showing inadequate PPE and protection from the virus.
It is necessary for the URF to campaign for democracy, accountability and a perspective that all members of the union irrespective of whether they work or not to have a proper democratic structure in the union and be able to participate like working members. When the pandemic is over we need to have a perspective to fight redundancies and sackings through strike action if necessary.