Blog: Be part of the solution

Democracy is at UNISON’s heart – and the more of you that vote, the better your union can represent you and be representative of you

general secretary Christina McAnea with UNISON members outside a London hospital

UNISON’s national executive council (NEC) is arguably the most important group of people at the union. It decides what kind of union UNISON is – nothing short of that.

The NEC is made up of ordinary members – just like you. It makes key decisions on your behalf and, every two years, the whole membership votes and decides which fellow members will represent them.

The next NEC election opens on 4 May. It’s a really important one and that’s why, as general secretary, I’m asking you to take part.

Because we have a problem and I want to be honest with you about it. And I’m asking for your help in solving it.

Democracy is at the heart of everything we do at UNISON, but not enough members are taking part in our elections – just like this one.

Why does that matter? Because for democracy to really work, for you to get the union you deserve, that will best represent you, we need as broad a range of members as possible to take part and vote.

That is the only way, in such a big and diverse union, that we will get a decision-making body that can accurately reflect the whole membership, not just a few.

Otherwise, the same small group of people who always vote will continue to vote, and our broad electorate of over 1.3 million people becomes a smaller and smaller ‘selectorate’ of just a few thousand.

But also we have a problem with who is voting – not just the numbers. Some of our smaller groups are chronically under-represented.

And women, who make up the majority of our members, are in a distinct minority when it comes to voting in our elections. As the union’s first female general secretary, I am determined to change this.

I want the union I lead to be for everyone. To represent everyone. A union where everyone plays a part – no matter how small – and everyone can have a say – not just those who shout the loudest.

Please use your vote when the voting pack arrives at your home, and help shape your union’s future – our future. Voting only takes a few minutes and every vote really does count.

I’m asking you now to start getting involved and begin our post-COVID work as a union by voting in these elections. So that we can get the very best, most representative NEC to work on your behalf.

Thank you.