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Right2Water site should not be used to promote “fake news” in UNITE election
10 April 2017
An article has appeared on the Right2Water site from a Unite official in Ireland stating; “Let’s be clear, without the support of Len McCluskey, there would be no Right2Water or Right2Change.” The author here is not giving due credit to the many Unite members who tramped the streets and blocked access to communities as part of the great mass of water protesters and who did play an important practical role in the movement.
Instead the credit for a determined struggle, in which victory is not quite yet achieved, has been snatched from the people that faced down the goons on their own doorstep and handed to the leader of a British trade union. This is an absolutely shameless piece of biased electioneering in the Unite leadership contest. Worse still, it is clear that official involved considers the Right2Water site his own private playpen. There is no open access to the site and no right of reply. Supporters of Right2Water are not being invited to discuss, but used as targets for "fake news" in a titled election.
This eclipsing of the role of the people who were the real backbone of the water protests entirely mirrors the election taking place in Unite. It summarises perfectly the trade union leadership's attitude to its own rank and file membership. By presenting these laurels to McCluskey the author ignores one of the candidates completely, Ian Allinson, failing to even mention his name.
Allinson was a member of the Unite NEC for 10 years and, unlike the others, is in full time employment outside the union. He is a workplace activist who has effectively unionised a traditionally hard to organise sector at Fujitsu UK and has been on strike and on the picket line during the election nomination and campaigning period. He has to apply to his employer for leave from work to campaign and does not have the vast resources that is at the disposal of McCluskey and the reactionary right winger Coyne. In spite of this difficulty his supporters ensured he was on the ballot.
As with the previous leadership challenge of Jerry Hicks, Ian Allinson has had to rely on a network of rank and file trade unionists and supporters and appeal for funds to produce leaflets and information on his candidacy. Despite the obvious difficulties the Hicks campaign achieved second in the last election. Allinson hopes to emulate this record, and make his rank and file driven campaign a viable left opposition to McCluskey and the potential basis for a rejuvenated trade union movement that reflects the needs of its membership.
Allinson, like the anti water charge protesters, is part of the real struggles of working class people. He is from the shop floor and this connects him with those struggles in a way the others cannot match. Yet this does not merit a mention on the R2W article. Just as the author writes the people who struggled against the water charges out of history he also erases the candidacy of the only rank and file candidate in the election.
This should not be allowed to pass. The leadership's condescending attitude to the mass of the protesters is a reason why the anti water charges campaign needs to be democratised. Only by drawing in representatives from local activist groups and communities and rank and file trade unionists can the threat to privatise water be conclusively ended. Through such a process the campaign can also begin to address health, education, transport and all the issues generated by austerity which face the Irish working class. For the the same democratic reasons Unite members in Ireland should vote for Ian Allinson and a union that is driven by the interests of its rank and file members.
More information on the Allinson campaign
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