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Christina McAnea elected as Unison's first female leader

by Matt Trinder
Industrial Reporter

UNISON elected Christina McAnea as its first female leader today.

The union’s former assistant general secretary polled 63,900 votes, a share of 47.7 per cent, ahead of Paul Holmes, backed by former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, with 45,220 votes.

Roger McKenzie, supported by Jeremy Corbyn, came third with 14,450 votes and Hugo Pierre was last with 10,382 votes.

Ms McAnea replaces Dave Prentis, who is retiring after two decades as general secretary.

She said: “I’m so grateful to everyone who voted for me and for the trust placed in me. I become general secretary at the most challenging time in recent history.

“Health, care, council, police, energy, school, college and university staff have worked throughout the pandemic, and it’s their skill and dedication that will see us out the other side. Their union will continue to speak up for them.

“Supporting public-service workers through the pandemic, securing an early pay rise for NHS staff and ensuring the government backs down on its plans for an ill-judged pay freeze will be my immediate priorities.”

Ms McAnea, who has worked at Unison since its formation in 1993, will start work as general secretary on January 22.

Welcoming his replacement, Mr Prentis said: “This is a historic day for our union, and I am delighted that Christina — a close friend and colleague for over 30 years — has today been elected as general secretary of our great union.”

Mr McKenzie, Unison’s first black assistant general secretary, said: “I want to congratulate Christina McAnea and all the other candidates for the spirited and ideas-driven campaigns they ran.

“But most of all I want to thank the thousands of Unison members who took part in these elections in the midst of this unprecedented public health crisis.

“Our members keep our country running and our people safe. They deserve the very best. As assistant general secretary, I will work with Christina to support our members.

“Together we will build a self-confident, democratic and organising union that gets our members what they deserve — for them, their families, their communities and for the wider public they serve so faithfully.”

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