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Unite - the Union
Unite logo
Founded 2007
Country United Kingdom & Ireland
Website *

Unite – the Union, known as Unite, is a British and Irish trade union, formed on 1 May 2007, by the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers' Union. Unite has two Joint General Secretaries, Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley.

Simpson and Woodley were the General Secretaries of Amicus and the T&G respectively at the time of the merger to form Unite.[1] It was agreed that Derek Simpson would remain in office until his 66th birthday, on 23 December 2010, and that Tony Woodley would retire a year later (at age 64). In Simpson's last year of office an election will be held across the whole of UNITE for a General Secretary Designate who will take office when Simpson retires and become General Secretary when Woodley retires.

On 2 July 2008, Unite signed an agreement to merge with the United Steelworkers to form a new global union entity called Workers Uniting. The new merged entity, Workers Uniting, will represent over 3 million active and retired workers in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean.


Executive Council

As part of the merger process, a Joint Executive Council (formed of the executives of both the predecessor unions) took office on the vesting day. In March 2008, a new Executive Council for the expanded Union was elected, taking office on 1 May 2008 and having a three year term.The Executive Council was tasked with putting a new Unite rulebook to a postal ballot of members during July 2008. The rule book was accepted by a majority of members and will not be subject to amendment until a Rules Conference is held.

The Unite Executive Council consists of 40 seats elected by former Amicus members and 40 seats elected by former TGWU members.

The 40 "Amicus seats" comprised one seat for each of the 10 UNITE regions, four women's seats and one seat for each of the 26 industrial sectors.

Within both the Amicus and T&G sections, the majority of victorious candidates were from the broad left slate, and a number of positions were uncontested. The first NEC meeting took place in the latter part of May.


  • Hunger Strike

The participants in the 2008 rooftop hunger strike at Unite's Transport House building in Belfast, were formerly shop stewards of the Transport and General Workers Union, now the T&G section of Unite the Union.[2] The dispute is over legal fees and compensation for an unfair dismissal action against the workers' employer, arising from a 2002 strike at Belfast International Airport, and the related actions of a full-time union official employee.[3][4][5]

Joint General Secretary Election and Merger Suspension

On the 9 October 2008 the executive council of Unite announced that there would be an election for the General Secretary (Amicus section), with a timetable of January/February 2009 for the election, the results being announced in March 2009. This election was for a fixed term until December 2010.

The Executive council also postponed the adoption of the new rule book and integration until May 2009. This action was taken in light of the potential success of a legal challenge to Simpson's extension of tenure by a "single member" of the union.[6] Jerry Hicks, the former convenor of Rolls Royce at Bristol who was unfairly dismissed and who won the tribunal with the support of Amicus, disclosed at the outset that he was the person behind the challenge. He made the same legal challenge thatSimpson used on his predecessor Ken Jackson.[7]

Candidates seeking nomination for the election, and their main union positions at the beginning of March 2009, were:

  • Derek Simpson (incumbent)[8]
  • Jerry Hicks (former convenor, Rolls Royce, Bristol)[9]
  • Laurence Faircloth (Regional Secretary, South West Region)[10]
  • Kevin Coyne (Regional Secretary, North West Region)[11]
  • Paul K. Reuter (National Officer)[12]

All candidates received sufficient nominations but Laurence Faircloth stood down after nominations closed, recommending that his supporters support Derek Simpson.[13]

Candidate Votes Cast Percentage
Derek Simpson 60048 37.7%
Jerry Hicks 39307 24.7%
Kevin Coyne 30603 19.2%
Paul Reuter 28283 17.8%
[spoilt votes] 1031 0.6%

A total of 159272 voting slips were returned, out of a possible 1096511 voters, a turnout of 14.5%. Simpson won the election with 37.7% of the total votes cast,[14] and will remain in the post of Joint General Secretary until December 2010.


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