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Press Release - Unite: There will be a fight

Shock for Unite Trade Union establishment as Jerry Hicks challenges Len McCluskey in election for General Secretary.

3 February 2013

It has been confirmed by the Electoral Reform Service [ERS] that rank and file Unite member Jerry Hicks has secured more than the 50 required nominations to be the only other candidate in the election for Unite General Secretary, challenging Len McCluskey for the position. 

Jerry Hicks said “This election should never have been called when McCluskey still had 3 years to go. Our members and their families face massive attacks and Unite’s time, energy and resources should be used to fight the Con Dem cuts and defend our members’ jobs, pensions, terms and conditions.”

Mr McCluskey announced the snap election, dragging it forward 3 years and pushing it through at break neck speed on the false premise of avoiding a clash with the 2015 General Election. 

Many in Unite thought that the election would never actually happen, but the nomination ‘success’ of Jerry Hicks against all the odds and many manoeuvres, means that all of Unite’s 1.5 million members will be balloted from March 18th to April 14th and it’s they who will choose who is to be their next General Secretary.

Jerry Hicks was quick to pay tribute to all those members and branches who have nominated him,  pointing out that had it not been for them Mr McCluskey would have been unopposed, extending his time in office to 2018 when he becomes 67 whilst denying members a vote.

Now that the election is actually going to happen the contrast between the two candidates will become evident and already there are clear differences: 

Jerry Hicks has promised to take just an average workers wage while McCluskey draws a pay package of £100,000.

Jerry Hicks says members should tell the union who they want to represent them by electing their officials. Mr McCluskey backs to the hilt the current system of appointing officials.

Mr McCluskey talks about reclaiming Labour but with no evidence of any change. He has promised ‘no blank cheques’ [2010] yet has lavished over £6m on Labour with pitiful returns. Jerry Hicks has a far less complicated approach - of payment by results, funding Labour only when they do the right thing. And he says that McCluskey made the wrong decision when backing Ed Miliband for Labour leader, he should have, as Jerry Hicks did, backed John McDonnell.

Jerry Hicks said “McCluskey makes tub thumping speeches but fails to turn the rhetoric into reality as with the failure to back co-ordinated public sector strike action last March. Now McCluskey chooses to deliver a fiery speech in a university theatre for the Ralph Miliband lecture, then heads off to Dundee for some ‘self promoting’ electioneering. I would have made that speech in the car park of Honda at Swindon where 800 job losses were announced the same week. I would have made that speech at Rolls Royce’s Ansty factory in Coventry, where half the workforce faces the sack.” 

Jerry Hicks argues that in the case of branch re-organisation, the development of Community branches is a good thing but has been painfully slow. The orientation to workplace branches is progressive as that is where industrial power lies, but is chaotic and far too dictatorial. And that tens of thousands of retired members feel disconnected. Unite is a union not a business yet it looks much like a big company, with jobs for life and a layer of officials more the equivalent of directors who simply don’t live the same lives as the members. Our union gets its money from the pockets of the members and we deserve more, much more. 


Notes to Editor: 

Jerry Hicks was unlawfully sacked by Rolls Royce in 2005. He is on the now infamous illegal blacklist of workers and is among 100 other in a class action High Court case represented by Guney Clark & Ryan Solicitors.

Unite is the biggest union in the UK with 1.5 million members. 

Unite is currently holding an election for its General Secretary, in which there are only two candidates, Jerry Hicks and Len McCluskey.

Jerry Hicks was runner up in Unites General Secretary election of 2010 beating two Assistant General Secretaries and securing 52,527 votes. 

He can be contacted by mobile 078 178 279 12 or email 

For more information go to


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