Willis ignores pressure to go
The vote by members of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union was thought to be an opportunity for Mr Willis to announce, with a degree of dignity, his intention to retire early after criticism from union leaders, invariably behind his back.
Mr Willis, 60 in January, restricted himself yesterday to congratulating the AEEU on the ballot in which a low turnout produced a 92 per cent vote in favour of TUC affiliation.
There will be a further opportunity for him to announce his early retirement at the TUC's 125th anniversary celebrations in the summer, but critics will become impatient if it seems he wants to soldier on after the annual congress in September. The process of replacing Mr Willis as TUC general secretary would have to be set in train by the ruling general council on 23 June for the annual congress in September to vote on a successor.
Virtually all members of the TUC's ruling council want to see Mr Willis retire, but none have been prepared to 'go public'. They believe that the TUC needs a more charismatic and articulate leader and most favour John Monks, Mr Willis's deputy, as the next TUC leader. During the next two months union leaders will discuss how best to lean on Mr Willis.
Nearly 840,000 ballot papers were distributed in the AEEU's postal ballot and 37 per cent were returned in what was the first major referendum on the value of the TUC among union members.
The vote was prompted by the merger of the engineers' and electricians' unions to form the AEEU. The engineering section of the new union was already a member of the TUC, but the electricians had been expelled in 1988 after rows over single-union agreements. It was thought likely that electricians voted with less enthusiasm for TUC membership, but the new union took care to ensure that the votes could not be separated.
Leaders of the new organisation will now have to negotiate their way through a minefield of membership disputes between the electricians and TUC unions, many of which have arisen while the electricians were outside the movement. However, most union leaders are in a mood to give the affiliation a fair wind.
Announcing the result of the ballot at the AEEU's national committee meeting in Llandudno, Gavin Laird, the union's general secretary, said the the ballot was 'the biggest vote of confidence the trade union movement has ever had'.
Mr Willis welcomed the 'splendid' result saying it showed that rank and file trade unionists backed the unity provided by the TUC.
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...
£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...