General secretary ballot results

Sharon Graham wins Unite general secretary election

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Sharon Graham has been confirmed as the next general secretary of Unite the union.

Unite the union has today (August 25) announced the final results of its members’ vote for each of the three candidates which is as follows:

  • Sharon Graham – 46,696 votes
  • Steve Turner – 41,833 votes
  • Gerard Coyne – 35,334 votes.

A total of 124,147 votes were cast.

Sharon Graham will succeed Len McCluskey who has been general secretary of the 1.2 million-strong union since 2010.

Commenting, the outgoing general secretary Len McCluskey said, “I thoroughly congratulate Sharon on her victory, which reaffirms her as the most formidable campaigning force in our movement.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and I am very proud to be handing over to our first woman general secretary,” he added.

“I have been hugely privileged to be at the helm of Unite for the past eleven years. Sharon has been a valued and close friend and an integral part of my senior team throughout my time in office so I know from experience that she is a talented, dedicated and passionate trade unionist,” McCluskey went on to say. “I have every faith that she will run our union in a manner true to its fighting back spirit.

“Sharon comes into office at a time of great uncertainty for our members and a challenging political environment,” he continued. “From assaults on workers’ rights to the fear that the end of furlough will bring with it increased and needless unemployment, the in-tray is full. But I know that she will build on our values and harness the talents of our great union in the service of our members and our movement.”

London-born Sharon began her working life at the age of 16 as a silver service waitress.  She led her first walkout aged 17 to win better pay and conditions for the workers.  

Sharon is an Executive Officer of Unite where she has developed the union’s Organising and Leverage department which specialises in taking on hostile employers.  Her team has a 100 per cent winning track record.

Over the past twenty years,  Sharon has developed innovative ways to organise and defend workers including providing specialist tools to Unite’s workplace reps, which are recognised as leading-edge across the global trade union movement.

Commenting, Sharon Graham said, “I am honoured to have been elected by our members, and I understand that the trust that they have placed in me brings with it tremendous responsibility.

“Our members expect their union to be in their corner so I was proud to stand on a manifesto that pledged to put our members and our workplaces first. I will deliver on those promises,” she added.

“Unite is an incredible force for good in the UK and Ireland but I am fully aware of the huge challenges our members face in the workplace.

“As general secretary, I will put all the power of our union into defending their jobs, improving their pay and protecting their rights,” Graham continued.

“Bad bosses take note. A strong Unite is the best defence that our members can have – my focus now is to build that strength.”

In a separate statement, Graham said, “It is an enormous privilege for me to have been elected as the General Secretary of Unite. Unite members across the UK and Ireland, have spoken. They want change. They have rallied, in their tens of thousands, to our demand that Unite should get back to the workplace and deliver what it says on the trade union tin – a relentless fight for Jobs Pay and Conditions.

“I stand for a fight against the gross injustices that blight the lives of our members, and British and Irish society as a whole,” she added. “What is happening to workers all over Britain in the cascade of ‘Fire and Rehire’ threats being issued by rogue employers is only one recent example of these injustices. I will make sure that the union fights this with all its power in the future.

“We won the Election because of the votes of the fearless who came behind our banner,” Graham went on to say. “We won because of the army of volunteers in my campaign who stood against the stream and, month after long month, battled to deliver our vote. The trade union movement is nothing if it is not a crusade. Our crusade has won and I will be eternally grateful to all those who made that possible. And, make no mistake, the pledges I have made to every member will be made real.”

Sharon Graham will take office on Thursday August 26, 2021.

By UniteLive team

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