As former senior officials in Unite or the unions that gave birth to Unite, we are writing to endorse Gerard Coyne as candidate for general secretary (Unite leadership battle sees Labour factions line up against each other, theguardian.com, 27 March).
We believe that strong unions are essential to public life and that they are both the best and the last defence of working people against abuse and exploitation. With Brexit adding to the pressures on working people and injecting huge additional instability into the economy, it is essential unions are able to exert the maximum industrial strength.
We make no apologies for supporting working people in taking on the plague of bad employers with their zero-hours contracts and attempts to get people to work longer for less money in less safe conditions. And we want to see unions lead the fightback against these employers.
Our labour movement always needs to be engaged in renewal and in searching out new ideas and new methods to advance its aims. Gerard Coyne is the candidate who can do most to deliver new ideas and reinvigorate our movement at a supremely difficult moment.
We need union leadership that is first and foremost there for the members, providing a strong voice in the public arena on the issues that matter to them. There comes a time when all trade union officials must make way for their successor generation and we believe that time has come for Len McCluskey.
Roger Lyons Former general secretary, Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union
Bill Morris Former general secretary, Transport and General Workers Union
Margaret Prosser Former president, Trades Union Congress
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