Assembly for a United Inclusive Left to Launch in UNITE.

Photo credit: Unite the Union.

Activists, shop stewards and socialists in Unite will meet on 17 September to re-establish a fighting united Left organisation within the union. This follows on from a successful initiative in mid-August where it was agreed to formally set up a new inclusive Left.

This development is based around Sharon Graham’s ‘Plan for Change’ campaign in her successful bid for General Secretary in 2021. Following this there have been many industrial disputes over the past two years, throughout both the private and public sectors. There have been real gains made even when not all disputes have resulted in wins. Inflation plus pay rises, where they have been achieved, are real indicators of this.

The fighting industrial programme spelled out in the ‘Plan for Change’ needs to be built throughout all sectors and regions. Shop stewards combines’ are essential for this to succeed. It has been felt necessary to rebuild a new democratic Left due to the degeneration of the misnamed old United Left which has opposed much of Sharon Graham’s policies; in particular, her criticisms of Starmer’s Labour party of which Unite is the largest financial contributor.

The recent elections to the General Executive Council, however, showed that the United Left (UL) have a slight majority. Unfortunately, at the recent UNITE Rules conference Sharon Graham argued against any rule changes calling for a break with Labour arguing ‘this isn’t the time’ and was supported by the overwhelming majority of delegates. At the policy conference standing orders ruled out a motion calling for a referendum of members on the relationship with Labour. However, it is important to note that the policy conference almost unanimously passed a motion committing UNITE to support a 24 hour general strike in opposition to the Tories new’ ‘Minimum Service Levels’ anti-trade union laws.

All of this highlights the need to build a functioning Left organisation which can consolidate the gains already made. It is vital that activists in the Irish region now reestablish a new democratic organisation which must not be just an electoral machine. Our aims must include: supporting workers in struggle, the organising model of trade unionism, supporting shop stewards and the combines, fighting anti-union laws, reversing privatisation, nationalisation of key sectors, being anti racist and the development of cross community political representation for working class people. We need to create a visible presence on picketlines and demonstrations throughout the Ireland region.

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