UNITE leader Len McCluskey vowed to continue exposing and holding to account “bad bosses” as he formally launched his re-election campaign yesterday.
Mr McCluskey is seeking another term in office, saying his members need someone who is experienced and “fearless” to tackle the continuing Tory onslaught on the working class over jobs, pay and conditions.
His current five-year term was due to end in 2018, but Mr McCluskey has brought forward the election by a year to next spring as the union faces one of the toughest fights in its history.
Mr McCluskey said that a key reason he is standing again is the support he has received from union members and officials across the country.
He also wants to continue campaigning for a Labour government and feels that he has more to give as Unite’s leader.
“I still have the same drive and passion to do the job I started, to create a powerful union that will always stand shoulder to shoulder with its members, to win decent pay and conditions,” he said.
The Unite leader highlighted the campaigns he has led against the “disgraceful” treatment of public sector workers who have been at the sharp end of the government’s swingeing austerity cuts.
“These are decent men and women and I intend to continue leading the fight for them, as well as workers on zero-hours contracts.”
One of Unite’s high profile campaigns this year has been to expose working conditions at retail giant Sports Direct, a fight which Mr McCluskey pledged to continue.
“I am coming after bad bosses. We have so many issues to deal with, so now is the time for continuity and stability.”
Unite has built up a £35 million strike fund, the biggest of its kind in Europe, which Mr McCluskey believes sends a strong message to employers, as well as assuring members they would not be
“starved back” to work during a dispute.
Mr McCluskey, who has frequently spoken in support of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his left-wing policies, but said Unite’s support for Mr Corbyn was a decision taken by the union’s executive and the members, not him personally.
“I will be doing all I can to get Labour re-elected, and there is no doubt that Jeremy Corbyn and [shadow chancellor] John McDonnell have put forward policies closely aligned to ours.”
Unite’s Midlands regional secretary Gerard Coyne saidearlier this week that he will also stand in the election.
And a third hopeful, Ian Allinson, announced yesterday that he would also throw his hat in the ring, calling Mr McCluskey and Mr Coyne “Establishment” candidates.
n More than 1,500 check-in staff, baggage handlers and cargo crew with the Unite union across 18 airports will strike for 48 hours from December 23.
Unite said last night the strike by Swissport workers is related to a long-running pay dispute.
Unite has Swissport members at airports including Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Doncaster, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, Leeds/Bradford, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, and Southampton and Stansted.