Sharon Graham the new general secretary of Unite union

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Sharon Graham becomes first female general secretary of Unite union

Sharon Graham has won the election to be the next general secretary of the Unite union.

Ms Graham won the election after receiving 46,696 votes and will become the union’s first female general secretary.

Competitors Steve Turner and Gerard Coyne received 41,833 votes and 35,334 votes respectively.

Releasing a statement confirming the result, Unite said a total of 124,147 votes were cast.

Sharon Graham – 46,696 votes
Steve Turner – 41,833 votes
Gerard Coyne – 35,334 votes.

A total of 124,147 votes were cast.

Sharon Graham will succeed Len McCluskey who has been general secretary of the 1.2 million-strong union since 2010.

Ms Graham said she is “honoured” to have been elected to the position and understands the “tremendous responsibility” the role brings.

“Our members expect their union to be in their corner so I was proud to stand on a manifesto that pledged to put our members and our workplaces first. I will deliver on those promises,” she said in a statement.

“Unite is an incredible force for good in the UK and Ireland but I am fully aware of the huge challenges our members face in the workplace. As general secretary, I will put all the power of our union into defending their jobs, improving their pay and protecting their rights.

“Bad bosses take note. A strong Unite is the best defence that our members can have – my focus now is to build that strength.”

The ballot was held following current leader Len McCluskey’s decision to step down from the role.

Responding to the result, Mr McCluskey described Ms Graham as “the most formidable campaigning force in our movement”.

“It’s a fantastic achievement and I am very proud to be handing over to our first woman general secretary,” he said.

“I have been hugely privileged to be at the helm of Unite for the past eleven years. Sharon has been a valued and close friend an integral part of my senior team throughout my time in office so I know from experience that she is a talented, dedicated and passionate trade unionist.

“I have every faith that she will run our union in a manner true to its fighting back spirit.”

He added: “Sharon comes into office at a time of great uncertainty for our members and a challenging political environment.

“From assaults on workers’ rights to the fear that the end of furlough will bring with it increased and needless unemployment, the in-tray is full. But I know that she will build on our values and harness the talents of our great union in the service of our members and our movement.”

About Sharon Graham
London-born Sharon began her working life at the age of 16 as a silver service waitress. She led her first walkout aged 17 to win better pay and conditions for the workers.

Sharon is an Executive Officer of Unite where she has developed the union’s Organising and Leverage department which specialises in taking on hostile employers. Her team has a 100 per cent winning track record.

Over the past twenty years, Sharon has developed innovative ways to organise and defend workers including providing specialist tools to Unite’s workplace reps, which are recognised as leading-edge across the global trade union movement.

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