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Len McLuskey is the favourite to win and some reports are already confirming that to be the case comments Andy Cook, CEO, Marshall James Global Solutions

London, 22nd November 2010 - Andy Cook, Chief Executive of Employee Relations Experts Marshall-James says "this election is one of the most significant to have taken place in the trade union movement for many years. Unite is an uncomfortable merger of two unions; Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union, which for the last 2 years has had 2 joint General Secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley. Many have suggested that the two have not seen eye to eye and that has caused internal wrangling that has made it difficult to manage the union and work to a joined up strategy".

"The election for General Secretary highlighted the division as Woodley backed Len Mcluskey and Simpson backed Les Bayliss. Most recently, Woodley wrote an open letter to the Guardian criticising Bayliss's remarks in relation to the on-going British Airways dispute".

If Mcluskey, an ex-Liverpool docker and left wing union activist has won, there is no doubt that Unite will follow a very traditional trade union agenda. He has publicly pledged to fight the Government and the banks (Unite has a significant membership base in the UK banks) and will use the power that comes with running a union with 1m plus members to pursue those battles.

"Many private sector employers that I work with who have recognition agreements with Unite, are concerned that with Mcluskey at the helm, relations with the union and ultimately their own employees, will become much more difficult", continues Cook.

"The challenge for the union movement as a whole in the UK is how to attract more members - union membership is currently 25% of the total workforce and declining steadily. Unions have to find a way to recruit younger workers and in my view, talk from union leaders about a class struggle and the evils of capitalism turns off most people. It is also vital Unions work with employers and recognise that a successful employer is in everyone's best interests. A good example is the union USDAW, who represent shop workers. Their membership increased by 5% last year. USDAW take the position that they want employers to do well and will work with them to succeed, as long as fair employment practises are followed. There is something in this approach as USDAW's increase in membership numbers bucks the trend."


If you are covering the UNITE general secretary election result and need an expert commentator, then Andy is available to talk with you. Please call Parm Evans on 07501 462 045 or email or call Andy Cook direct on 07919518764.

Andy Cook - Biography (Photography available)

Andy Cook has over 10 years’ experience in senior human resources positions in heavily unionised work places, including the airline and transport industries. He founded and runs Marshall-James, a specialist Employee Relations Advisory firm that works with many large employers from both the public and private sectors. His career has included roles as HR Director at the British Library, Head of Human Resources and Employee Relations with Transport for London and as HR Director, UK and Ireland, with Gate Gourmet. Andy and his team have grown Marshall-James into one of the foremost experts in Industrial and Employee Relations. He continues to advise clients personally as well as speaking at conferences and writing regular articles for both the HR community and the wider business audience and is often called upon as an expert commentator on industrial disputes and HR issues in the press and media.

Notes to Editors

Marshall-James is a specialist Employee Relations Advisory firm based in the UK that specialises in all aspects working with Employers who face issues and challenges with Trade Union Relations and Collective Employee Issues. Marshall-James works with household name employers both inside and outside the UK.

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