Sharon Graham’s victory reflects the desire for change in Unite

Halima Abdi, is a member of the YCL’s London branch

Sharon Graham has promised to re-focus Unite’s efforts into defending job security, pay, and working conditions.

Graham’s success was possible thanks to her campaign’s strong support amongst grassroots Unite members, particularly those in rank-and-file sectors like construction.

Graham, the left wing ‘underdog’ in the Unite General Secretary elections, has secured a victory, defeating the right-wing candidate Gerard Coyne, to become the leader of Britain’s second largest union. 

Graham’s success was possible thanks to her campaign’s strong support amongst grassroots Unite members – particularly those in rank and file in sectors like construction.

Graham’s campaign was heavily member-led and will give confidence to workers moving into struggle, with her pledge to increase Unite’s fight for job security, pay, and working conditions.

Following early indicators of a Graham win, the final results were announced yesterday (Thursday 26), confirming her victory.

Graham received 37.7% of the vote with second place going to Steve Turner at 33.8% and Gerard Coyne at 28.5%. However, the elections only saw a membership turnout of approximately 12%.

However, above all, these results must be seen as a huge victory for the left with Graham and Turner gaining over two-thirds of the vote. This reveals the radical mood amongst union activists who are facing attacks across the board.

Lets go back to the workplace”, says Graham in her 8000-word manifesto where she reflects on her journey from the beginning where she represented workers from the age of 17 leading unofficial walkout, leading to her becoming an established trade unionist. Her campaigns have seen her secure key wins for workers in Britain and Ireland.

Graham is confident that her proposed trade union strategy will rescue Unite from the right and strengthen the union’s relations with its rank-and-file membership.

The YCL has made the following statement:

Congratulations to Sharon Graham, the first female General Secretary of Unite the Union.

This impressive win is a heavy defeat for the right, and a massive endorsement of a re-focus on jobs, pay & conditions with a left-wing woman at the helm of it.

Sharon stood on an ambitious platform, committed to organising and rebuilding our industrial strength.

This programme deserves support from across Unite & beyond.

Halima Abdi

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