New Unite leader promised to give ‘greater autonomy’ to union in Wales
The new leader of Unite promised to give the workers’ union in Wales “greater autonomy” in her manifesto.
Sharon Graham, the first ever female General Secretary of Britain’s second-largest union – and biggest Labour donor – promised that “contributions made to the political fund by members living in Wales should be spent in Wales”.
She added that it was not the role of Union leaders in London to decide what members in Wales should say or do with regard to the Senedd.
“It should be up to our activists in Wales to define the relationship with the Welsh Labour Party,” she said. “Upon being elected General Secretary, I will undertake a review that will make practical recommendations to ensure that political power is passed back to Wales.
“It is clear to me that our members in Wales are almost uniquely positioned to set new standards politically and drive forward a programme of renewal on behalf of workers.
“As General Secretary, I will fully support and encourage positive ideas. In the workplace, our Reps and Shop Stewards from Wales will be critical players in the new industrial Combines that will cover our whole Union.
“I will also deliver a specific national growth plan for Wales and make sure that strategic organising campaigns are fully resourced.”
Among her manifesto commitments were to “ensure that political decision-making will be fully devolved and that the relationship with Welsh Labour is determined by activists in Wales.”
She also said that it was not the role of the head office to interfere in the politics of Scotland.
“It is not the role of head office to order what our Union should say or do with regard to the Scottish Parliament or the independence question,” she added.
Sharon Graham won 37.7% of the vote, narrowly beating the favourite Steve Turner, who had been backed by outgoing leader Len McCluskey.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, welcomed her election by tweeting: “Congratulations to UniteSharon on her election as general secretary of Unite – the first ever woman to hold that role.
“I’m looking forward to working together to improve the lives of working people across the country.”