The UK’s largest trade union has elected Christina McAnea as its new general secretary, who becomes UNISON’s first-ever female general secretary.
Christina McAnea will lead UNISON after winning the election to become the union’s new general secretary. Ms McAnea succeeds Dave Prentis, who has retired after 20 years in the role, after winning almost half of the votes (48%) in the union’s leadership ballots.
The final results of the ballot were:
- Christina McAnea – 63,900 (47.7%)
- Paul Holmes – 45,220 (33.76%)
- Roger McKenzie – 14,450 (10.79%)
- Hugo Pierre – 10,382 (7.75%)
Following the announcement of her victory, Ms McAnea posted on Twitter:
We made history ! Thanks so much for all the support . I may be the first woman GS in UNISON but I won’t be the last . @unisontheunion
— Christina McAnea (@cmcanea) January 11, 2021
Commenting in more detail on her election, Christina 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 – both for our country and our public services.
“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 and do all it can to protect them in the difficult months ahead. Despite the risks, the immense pressures and their sheer exhaustion, the dedication and commitment of our key workers knows no end.
“I will not let this government, nor any future one, forget that.
“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.
“Pushing for the funding and the political will to create a quality, affordable national care service, where staff are respected and paid fairly, comes close behind.”
Outgoing general secretary Dave 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.
“As an experienced and respected negotiator and passionate campaigner, I can think of no better person to pass the baton to and take our union forward.
“I am so proud that our union of over a million women now has its very first woman leader. Christina will be a fantastic general secretary, as she presides over a growing union.”
Ms McAnea has worked at UNISON since its formation in 1993 and rose to become assistant general secretary responsible for collective bargaining and negotiation. In 2014, she was the lead negotiator during a strike by NHS staff – the first in England for 25 years – and during the COVID-19 crisis she has sat on the government’s social care stakeholder group.