April 14, 2021
The race to replace Len McCluskey as the head of the Unite union has formally begun with both left-wing and centrist candidates declaring it’s time for “change”.
Race To Replace Len McCluskey Starts As Unite Triggers General Secretary Election
Britain’s second largest union is expected to have a new general secretary in post by the end of August after its executive council triggered the election on Wednesday.
Left-backed Steve Turner, seen as the favourite, and centrist Gerard Coyne, an arch critic of McCluskey’s 11-year reign, both swiftly declared themselves as contenders.
Howard Beckett, a vociferous opponent of Keir Starmer on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, and national organiser Sharon Graham are also set to stand.
The declarations came as a row blew up over a new threshold to get on the ballot paper after Unite increased the previous minimum requirement for nominations.
The number of local union branches needed by a candidate has more than tripled from 50 in 2017 to 174 today.
A union spokesperson said: “After a full discussion by our executive council, it has been agreed that Unite’s general secretary election is now underway.
“A timetable will be circulated once agreed with the independent scrutineer. The election will be concluded towards the end of August.”
Coyne, who has also hit out at McCluskey’s spending of £98m of members’ money on a Birmingham hotel and conference centre, attacked “the most draconian entry requirements of any election in trade union history”.
The former regional secretary, who came within 5,000 votes of beating McCluskey four years ago, said the tactic would backfire as “reps and members will be repulsed by their attack on the democracy of the union and natural justice”.
Coyne pointed out that of the four expected candidates he would be the only one who was not a senior serving official.
“Unite members and reps are crying out for change, not more of the same. Unite has spent nearly £100m building a hotel and conference centre in Birmingham. That’s a clear example of the wrong priorities and the wrong approach,” he said.
“I will use the union’s resources and energy to empower our workplace reps and support our members through the troubled times to come – not to play political games or waste their hard-earned money.”
But Turner also signalled a break with the McCluskey era, focusing more on workplace rights and member services rather than internal Labour Party politics.
The former bus driver and shop steward, who last year won the crucial endorsement of the United Left grouping, is backed by the Communist Party.
He promised a “Charter for Change” with a focus on better services for union members, including a new Unite Assist smartphone app and extended freephone helpline to provide 24/7 support.
“For 39 years I’ve walked in the shoes of our members; listening, learning and leading – from shop steward and officer to assistant general secretary. I’ve been unemployed and know what it’s like to lose your Job, struggling to pay bills and put food on the table,” he said.
“It’s my life experiences that drive me, that motivate me to be the best I can be, from helping secure the furlough scheme, to leading the charge in the fight for the jobs of today and the livelihoods of tomorrow.
“We will not allow the pandemic to be exploited by opportunistic bosses, or workers’ wages pinched to boost the riches of profitable companies and line the pockets of multimillionaires.”
McCluskey is arguably the best known trade union leader in the country, with Unite having played a key role in the elections of Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leaders.
He has proved a strident critic of Keir Starmer, warning he would end up in “the dustbin of history” if he continued to “marginalise” the left of the Labour movement.
But Unite’s membership has dropped in recent years, making Unison the biggest union in the UK.
Beckett, who has the backing of former Labour general secretary Jenny Formby, is launching his campaign on Sunday on Zoom.
“This is a critical time for workers across our regions and nations, and I know they expect strong leadership from Unite the union,” he said.
“We know that this rabid Tory government is hell-bent on making worker’s pay for this health crisis – just like the made worker’s pay for the bankers crisis - I am determined to stop that from happening.”
National organising officer Sharon Graham said that her role in leading efforts to unionise Amazon proved what kind of general secretary she would be.
“Things cannot return to business as usual post-Covid. If Unite is to face the massive challenge of fighting for jobs, fighting for wages and defending conditions it must be built at the workplace as never before. New times demand new ways to defend workers,” she said.Related...Unite Union Facing 'Stitch-Up' Claim Over McCluskey Successor ElectionLen McCluskey Blasts 'Vindictive' Keir Starmer For Banning Jeremy Corbyn From Being A Labour MPWill New Trade Union Bosses Help Keir Starmer Or Hinder Him?
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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