Posts Tagged ‘Paul Reuter’

Unite election exclusive: Reuter backs Bayliss

Thursday 3 June 2010

In an important but hardly surprising move (I anticipated it six months ago), Unite election candidate Les Bayliss, the joint frontrunner with Len McCluskey, has today got a boost to his campaign: his rival, full-time officer Paul Reuter has this week agreed to withdraw his candidacy and support Bayliss.

Both Reuter and Bayliss sought the nomination of the Derek Simpson-backed Workers Uniting Group, but after Bayliss won it last year, Reuter refused to withdraw from the race. Now he has done that, and the advantage Len McCluskey has – of being the only candidate from his (T&G) side of the union, and the Amicus side vote being split several ways – has narrowed.

More follows shortly…

Update: Paul Reuter told me his reasons for standing down: “It would’ve been difficult for either Les or I to win if we both ran.

“In terms of our vision there’s not a lot between us, in terms of the type of the union and trade unionism that we want to create in future, in order to keep out the stupid left.*

“It’s my view and Les’ view that only one of us can run. I will be working with Les to secure his position.

So what does this mean? I don’t think it means anything radical has changed behind the scenes. There was talk of a Reuter-Bayliss alliance earlier this year, and it’s noticeable that Reuter was the only candidate who didn’t have any leaflets distributed when Unite’s policy conference (currently wrapping up in Manchester) opened at the weekend.

For Reuter it could well mean a promotion if Bayliss wins. Both he and Team Bayliss were keeping schtum about whether he will have any particular job – “No and I haven’t sought that” Reuter said, when I asked if he had been offered the post of deputy general secretary – but it’s clear they will be working closely from now on.

“What we have agreed is that I’ll be part of the team. If he’s successful there’ll be a role within that team,” Reuter told me.

*Both Reuter and Bayliss portray themselves as moderates, in contrast, their supporters would say, to the Socialist Workers Party-backed Jerry Hicks and the former Militant Labour supporter Len McCluskey.

P.S. Here’s the WUG statement in full:

Unite General Secretary Election – A Strategic Alliance  

We are pleased to announce that following detailed discussions between Les Bayliss and Paul Reuter an agreement has been reached with the objective of ensuring both the broadest and widest support for the Workers’ Uniting Group Candidate for the Unite General Secretary Election. 

It has been mutually and jointly agreed that in the interests of the Union going forward, and in developing and strengthening the Election leadership team, that Paul and his supporters will continue to support the aims and objectives of the Workers’ Uniting Group with an objective of  building a strong, efficient and effective union with particular emphasis on Officer support and development.  To this end, Paul has been asked by the Workers’ Uniting Group to develop strategies which will ensure that Officer Development is central to its mandate for change.    

In this vein, the Workers’  Uniting Group will continue dialogue with all  Unite members, activists, representatives, officers, organisers, and staff within the Union who wish to voluntary agree with its aims and objectives and can assist in the election of its candidate, Les Bayliss as the new General Secretary of Unite.

P.P.S. The other declared candidates are Simon Dubbins, Jerry Hicks and Gail Cartmail. Nominations still haven’t opened, let alone closed, so more could yet appear.

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Ken Loach and other Unite election campaigns

Friday 21 May 2010

Such is my ignorance of what British film directors look like that, when I sat in on Jerry Hicks’ speech at a socialist meeting in London last week, I didn’t notice the presence of Ken Loach. Ken is backing Jerry for general secretary of Unite, in a move the other candidates may not thank me for writing about. Oh well. Video here, probably not directed by Mr Loach by the looks of it.

Other candidates are available! And here are their websites:

Les Bayliss

Gail Cartmail

Simon Dubbins (currently under construction)

Jerry Hicks

Len McCluskey

Paul Reuter

Update: I originally linked to the ‘support Les Bayliss’ page on the site of Workers Uniting Group, the Unite faction supporting him. Les has his own site, and I’ve now linked to it (above). Also, Simon Dubbins’ site is now up and running.

Unite election: Bayliss inviting Reuter to join campaign?

Monday 11 January 2010

This is interesting. A reliable corner of the Unite union’s ever-grinding rumour mill believes that Les Bayliss, Derek Simpson’s preferred candidate to be the next general secretary, is asking his rival Paul Reuter to join his campaign.

Reuter has been considering for some months now whether to declare his candidacy to be the union’s first single leader. From his many on-the-record comments it’s clear that sees himself as a unity candidate who isn’t associated with either Amicus (his half of Unite) or the T&G. Bayliss would say the same thing no doubt, but as preferred candidate of Simpson, whose clashes with the T&G are well known, it’s perhaps a bit harder to make the case for being a unity candidate. The same goes for the other prominent contender, Len McCluskey of the T&G, Tony Woodley’s man for the job.

So if this is true* (which I think it is or I wouldn’t have bothered writing this) what does it mean? It could mean that Bayliss sees Reuter as a formidable opponent and wants to neutralise him. Or maybe Reuter, with his long track record in the union, is just a useful man to have on board and rally the troops?

Watch this space…

*I have asked both Bayliss and Reuter, but they haven’t replied yet. I’ll post their replies if and when they do.

Higson vs Unite: Royal Mail’s climbdown over orders to managers

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Last week I did a piece for Tribune about how Royal Mail was ordering managers to do postmens’ (and womens, thanks Enoch Was Right) work for them during the CWU strike. Royal Mail managers are represented by the union Unite. Now I learn it seems they’ve backtracked.

In response to my questions for last week’s article, Royal Mail emailed a statement saying: “Anyone who is not able to work directly in the operation for whatever reason is not required to do so”. A complete contradiction, it seems to me, of managing director (letters) Mark Higson’s words in his letter, to wit:

“You will recall, I wrote to you back in September, explaining that two days’ support per week would be the minimum expected level. The need to provide a service for customers relying on us means this can no longer be optional .”

What changed? Well, Unite’s Paul Reuter wasn’t happy with the order, as I said in my article. Managers have a flexibility clause in their contracts that means they have to cover for lower grade staff, but Higson’s order went too far for the liking of the union, who asked him to rescind it.

Moreover, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley wrote to their own members expressing solidarity with the CWU this week. Unite members can’t legally take unofficial strike action – there’s no dispute between them and Royal Mail – but it seems they can refuse to do postpersons’ work after a certain point of flexibility.

It seems Royal Mail have decided they can’t win this one. Managers’ cover could never break the  strike on its own – there aren’t enough of them, 12,000 out of 120,000 – but they could have damaged morale amongst the strikers.

Unite election: and then there were five

Tuesday 13 October 2009

One month after the election campaign to lead (all together now) Britain’s biggest union kicked off in earnest, it’s still pretty wide open. But yesterday came a milestone: the first proper, fully-fledged hustings meeting (complete with vote) of Workers Uniting Group, the main faction in unite alongside United Left (and keen readers of this blog).

For the first time, the number of candidates seems to be getting narrower, not wider. Because WUG have now closed their doors to new candidates for their nomination. Other names which I’ve heard bandied about now seem unlikely to stand, because UL have a nominated candidate, Len McCluskey, and without a faction’s support nobody – except maybe Jerry Hicks, who lest we forget came second in the Amicus election – seems to have a good chance of winning.

So who have we got? McCluskey, Hicks and on the WUG side, Les Bayliss (assistant general secretary, responsible for finance), Brian Boyd (national officer for aerospace) and Paul Reuter (national officer for communication managers; in charge of Royal Mail management members.)

Here’s what happened when the last three turned up to the hustings in Doncaster yesterday.

About 45 people turned up to hear them speak; the remarks were pretty temperate by all accounts. But Paul Reuter did have a little pop at Len McCluskey:

“I am led to believe that someone has already declared himself as the TGWU candidate. If that’s the case then I would question their judgement.” [Clearly McCluskey would not agree, before anyone writes in to tell me]

Much talk of the importance of being one union, supporting and changing Labour, fighting the Tories etc. After their speeches, the audience sent them out and had half an hour’s debate. Then they voted. Bayliss came first, then Paul Reuter, and Brian Boyd came third. Some say the audience had decided how they were going to vote before hearing the speeches; but the point is moot. This is only the first hustings meeting of ten; WUG will not have a candidate for another month. All three candidates have geographical areas of support so there’s no knowing how the votes will stack up.

Where does this leave us? Both Reuter and Bayliss, from the Amicus side, claim support from people in the former T&G side. How big that support is remains to be seen; I know McCluskey has support from certain Amicus groups. Everyone talks of making Unite properly merged (everyone I talk to in general admits in public or private that the merger still isn’t complete) but only Reuter suggested that it hadn’t really gone according to plan recently, and things should be happening a little bit quicker than they are under the leadership. Sounds like a pitch to those who’d like to see a new broom.

Bayliss and Boyd point to the difficulties, and Bayliss – a veteran of the mergers that created Amicus in 2001 – speaks of “a number of colleagues in the union looking backwards instead of looking forwards”. Who he means I couldn’t say. But Derek Simpson made an attack on the “tribalist” T&G in a previous address to WUG, and Bayliss has made remarks about the T&G not expecting too much change.

Conclusion: Two unions, five candidates. Watch this space.

Unite Amicus election results in full, and what happens next

Saturday 7 March 2009

Derek Simpson (pic: Martin Rathfelder)hicksresultKevin Coyne

Please credit me if you use any of this report, thanks. I’ll be adding to it as information comes in.

The votes have been counted, and here are the results I’ve received, unconfirmed as yet by Unite the Union or Electoral Reform Services:

Derek Simpson 60,048 – 37.85%

Jerry Hicks 39,307 – 24.84%

Kevin Coyne 30,603 – 19.34%

Paul Reuter 28,283 – 17.87%

Total valid votes: 158,241 (approximately 12.9% of Amicus membership)

Spoilt ballots: unknown 1031

Initial reaction: “I’m elated,” said Jerry Hicks when I rang him at half past two today. Elated, of course, by the fact that he has placed second behind Derek Simpson. Six months ago, he likes to say, no-one gave him a chance.

“I finished second on the back of being told I had lied, and that Simpson was the honest broker”.

Jerry said he would now discuss with his supporters whether to complain to the Certification Officer over the conduct of the election. Kevin Coyne has already complained to the CO over Simpson’s letter. “I can’t possibly think it’s been free and fair”, Hicks added.

He put the “very poor turnout” down to discontent in the union. I don’t know how many unspoilt ballots there were but turnout seems to have been no more than 20%.

I must say, I expected more turnout for such a high-profile election. It remains to be seen what the Certification Officer says…

Update: I haven’t got through to him yet, but it seems Coyne won’t be contesting the result according to the post on his website. In that case, the only possible new threat to Simpson’s continued reign can come from Jerry Hicks.

This result will surprise some in Unite. Coyne came third despite coming second in the nomination round, whereas Reuter’s fourth place confirms his low nominations and relatively low profile.

According to Coyne there were only 1031 spoilt ballots, so less than 15% of Amicus voted. A shockingly low turnout, except that union elections always suffer from low turnouts.

The FT’s Jim Pickard is saying that Labour ministers are relieved at this result, and that Tony Woodley is seen as less loyal to the Labour government. He’s not wrong.