Grassroots candidate Paul Holmes achieved an amazing result in the recent elections for Unison general secretary. We publish here a message from Paul, thanking his supporters and looking to the struggles ahead.

Grassroots candidate Paul Holmes achieved an amazing result in the recent elections for Unison general secretary. We publish here a message from Paul, thanking his supporters and looking to the struggles ahead.

First of all, I would like to thank everybody who supported me in this general secretary election campaign. Without you none of this would have been possible.

Secondly, I would like to make a few basic points. We did extremely well. My percentage of the vote in this election (33%) was the highest ever obtained by someone who did not win. I managed to get three times the number of votes of the 3rd place candidate, and four times those of the 4th place candidate.

Build upon our success

The election campaign was a great success – not just in terms of votes, but also the hundreds of new activists who joined our campaign and who want to get involved. Our job is to build upon this. The process has now started for the 2021 Unison NEC elections, and many new candidates have come forward for those NEC elections.

 

In the current climate, particularly with COVID, public sector workers are frightened, tired, and over-stretched. Our union’s members are facing redundancies, cuts to their terms and conditions, as well as fire-and-rehire tactics by employers – such as British Gas and Tower Hamlets council.

The NHS and the care sector are under great strain. There are 100,000 NHS vacancies; and 15% of NHS staff are off work with issues related to COVID. Local government workers face cuts to pensions and statutory redundancy payments, by an incompetent and vicious government looking to make workers pay for Tory mistakes.

Onwards to the NEC elections!

The Unison general secretary election result shows that our members will respond to calls for the union to really change. The Unison NEC elections will continue that process, with new layers of working-class Unison representatives coming forward to meet the challenge.

Workers understand that they need a Unison leadership who have led and won disputes, and who understand the nature of the fight to come. Our members' futures should be our union's main objective. We need to ensure that our branches have the resources, support, leadership and backing to successfully fight the battles that are inevitably ahead.

This general secretary election result has shown that this process has begun – and that there is a clear potential to win.