General secretary election 2020 processes and procedures

Dave Prentis, our current general secretary, has announced he is to retire on 31 December 2020. An election will be held to appoint a new general secretary.

The union’s National Executive Council at a meeting on 23 July 2020, agreed a timetable for the election.

Full details and procedures are available:

General Secretary election – Procedures

Nomination period

The nomination period ran from 10 August to 25 September 2020.

Nomination meeting guidance


The following have been confirmed as candidates in the election to choose a new general secretary for UNISON.

Their names are listed below in the order they will appear on the ballot paper and in the election address booklet.

Paul Holmes

Nominated by one service group executive, two regional councils and 99 branches.

Christina McAnea

Nominated by the national executive council (NEC), five service group executives, nine regional councils and 210 branches.

Roger McKenzie

Nominated by one service group executive, one regional council and 104 branches.

Hugo Pierre

Nominated by 31 branches.

Voting Process

Members not on the UNISON central membership system on 28 July 2020 will not be eligible to vote in this election. Retired members are entitled to vote.

Ballot papers will be sent to members’ home or other notified address in writing. Members will be provided with a pre-paid envelope for the return of the ballot paper to the independent scrutineer. All voting will be by post.

Ballot Papers

The despatch of ballot papers to individual members will begin on 28 October 2020.

The ballot pack will consist of:

  • a covering letter from the union
  • a booklet containing the candidates’ election addresses and a full list of nominating bodies
  • a ballot paper
  • a return envelope.

Where members have previously requested materials in a special format (for example in large print), they will automatically receive the ballot pack in that format. Any additional requests should be made to the ballot helpline.

Ballot Helpline

If individual members have not received a paper by 10 November 2020, they should contact the ballot helpline via UNISONdirect on 0800 0 857 857.

Members with hearing difficulties can use textphone 0800 0 967 968.

If callers can have their membership number to hand when calling, that would help.

The latest that members can request a ballot paper is noon on 20 November 2020.

Please note that the ballot helpline can only deal with queries from individual members. If branches believe there is a wide-scale problem with receipt of ballot papers amongst their members (for instance if whole departments or geographical areas have not received ballot papers) then the branch should contact their regional office.

Result and close of ballot

The deadline for receipt of ballot papers by the scrutineer is 5pm on Friday 27 November 2020.

The result of this election will be announced on 11 January 2021.


Eligibility to vote

All members, including retired members (but not honorary members), who are on the union’s membership register as of 28 July 2020, will be entitled to vote in this election.

Members not on the membership register on 28 July 2020 will not be able to vote. 

Returning Officer and Scrutineer

The returning officer and scrutineer for this election is Civica Election Services.

Email: Tel: 020 8365 8909


Any complaint about the conduct or fairness of this election must be received no later than 5pm on 4 December 2020. Complaints must be in writing and should enclose any supporting documentation. Complaints should be sent to Civica Election Services.



Any queries on this information or this election should be directed to the Member Liaison Unit at the UNISON centre.

Email: Tel: 020 7121 5399