SIPTU General Secretary election results

The counting is over, SIPTU has a new General Secretary. Joe O'Flynn (the current regional secretary for the south west) has been voted into the post. He succeeds John Mc Donnell who is retiring.

O'Flynn defeated Noel Dowling (the same Noel Dowling who described himself as a "socialist" but supported management during the recent pilots' strike at Dublin Airport) by just over five thousand votes. O'Flynn got 57,592 votes compared to Dowling's 52,293.

Radical left wing candidate and factory worker Des Derwin was eliminated with 7,512 votes. Unlike the other two candidates, Des had sod all access to the media. He had to take his annual holidays in order to campaign and had to finance his leaflets through a credit union loan.

Des had stood in the election to raise the issues of increasing democracy in the union, opposing 'social partnership' deals with the state and employers, and supporting workers who want to take on their bosses.

As he said "This is not about getting Des Derwin elected. It is about the best showing for a different, a changed and forceful, SIPTU, with far greater member input. I am standing on a platform of change, revitalisation and the return of our Union to independence, fighting-form and control from below by the general membership".

Being the leadership's chosen boy, Dowling was supposed to get elected. His people are talking about lots of ballot papers from the South West and West that appear to have the same handwriting. There have been claims of a lot of 'questionable' papers.

This may be sour grapes, or perhaps O'Flynn pulled a stroke. Only time will tell.

But the bigger point is how weak the opposition in SIPTU is. About 7% is not a good vote! There is no opposition network, simply a number of individuals who are fairly isolated from each other.

The one good thing we can take from all this is that the 7,512 votes came as a result of hard work by Des and no more than about a dozen others. Most of the 'campaign' meetings were attended by just four or five of us.

Last week's rejection of the Nice Treaty by delegates to SIPTU's Dublin regional conference further demonstrates that there are a fair few 'dissidents' in our union - but the work of bringing them together to change the structures and policies is still ahead of us.

Alan MacSimoin

[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement member, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written]

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