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Unite the Union's General Secretary Election

For those members who don't know, we are currently in the midst of an election for our next General Secretary of Unite. At the June HPC Branch meeting there was a debate and then vote for who the branch would give their backing and support. It was decided that the HPC Branch would nominate and support Sharon Graham during the election.

Your postal ballot form has been sent out this week to your registered address. Your Reps and Branch would like to urge you to remember to fill this in and pop it in the post the next time that you travel home. Unite has over 1.2 million members across the UK but less than 200k voted in the last General Secretary election.

Sharon’s Story Sharon led her first walkout at 17 and has been winning campaigns ever since.

Sharon was born in West London. One of four children, she was brought up by her Irish mother and Geordie father. After leaving school at 16, Sharon worked as a silver service waitress for a number of years and at the age of 17 she led her first successful walk-out, defending casual workers who were being paid less and treated worse. From that moment on, Sharon understood the power of the collective and how Unions could help change people’s lives for the better.

At 27 Sharon attended the TUC Organising Academy where her commitment to traditional trade union values helped set her apart. Sharon’s drive to build power at the workplace has always been central to her beliefs and it shaped the Organising, Leverage and Workplace Bargaining Strategy she went on to build. Over the following 20 years Sharon became an experienced and extremely successful negotiator. Specialising in hostile campaigns, Sharon has won every campaign she has led – a 100% track record – winning 12 Leverage campaigns. From fighting illegal closures and winning reinstatement for sacked and blacklisted shop stewards, to helping prevent the destruction of national wage bargaining, Sharon has faced and negotiated against some of the biggest employers in Britain and Ireland.

At the same time as leading the Union’s Organising and Leverage Department, Sharon also developed Work, Voice & Pay – providing bargaining support to our frontline activists and coming up with an industrial plan to take our Union forward at the workplace. Sharon proved her ability to innovate and use new technology, introducing new digital tools like the Pay Claim Generator. Whilst her plan to organise the top employers in each of our Sectors and bring together Shop Stewards, will increase our member’s power and raise pay, terms and conditions.

Ever since Sharon led her first walkout, she has understood that it is only by bringing workers together that change is made. Sharon’s priority is the Union and she knows that it is jobs, pay and conditions that matter to our members not the Westminster machine. When elected she will prove that there are no ‘no go’ areas for Unite. Workers in the service sector and other major non-Union employers will be organised and the undercutting of our members’ pay, terms and conditions will be stopped. Her track record shows that together, we can win. It’s time to take Unite back to the workplace.

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