Vote could bring swing to militancy

The leadership of Britain’s biggest union could fall to a trade unionist
whose political beliefs include taking the top 150 FTSE companies into public

Roger Bannister, a member of the hard left Socialist Party, is the principal
opponent to the national executive choice in Unison’s election for general
secretary which follows the decision of Rodney Bickerstaffe to stand down.

The Socialist Party’s manifesto advocates a 35-hour working week, with no
loss of pay and employment protection rights for all staff from day one of

Bannister’s election to the top job could mean a swing back towards
militancy to the detriment of partnership and modern industrial relations

Bannister, who was expelled from the Labour Party in 1986 for belonging to
the Trotskyist group Militant Tendency, att-acked Tony Blair in his campaign
statement for putting "the interests of big business before the interests
of the working class".

The Knowsley branch secretary was nominated for election by one regional
council and 66 branches. His opponent, deputy general secretary, Dave Prentis,
is being backed by the national executive, eight regional councils and 278

But Bannister claims his opponent has underestimated opposition within the
union to a leader seen as "too close" to New Labour.

The winner will be announced on February 28.

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