The ‘edgy’ candidate making a bid for Unite’s top job
The Guardian's Hélène
Mulholland talks to Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary (AGS) at Unite the union, who is standing for the union's top job.
Not one to be deterred by working in a male dominated environment, Cartmail once led a print union chapel in east London made up entirely of men.
She also earned plaudits from colleagues for standing her ground in front of
police at the News International printers' dispute in Wapping. Cartmail is now embarking on a new challenge by seeking to become the first woman leader of the largest trade union in
The struggle to get women to stand up for leadership contests is well known – just look at the recent contest for the labour leadership. Things aren't much better In the trade union movement, where less than a third of unions have women general secretaries, with none
heading the biggest four.
Cartmail needs to secure 50 nominations from Unite branches to get on
the ballot paper, which is not going to be easy. According to Cartmail:"The question is, what are people looking for? If they are looking
same old same old, they won't vote for me. I mean why would you, if you
think everything's great and you just want white older blokes. I'm edgy.
I don't mind mess, but I like to be productive and I like people to
work hard, and I know people do work hard if they feel motivated and
they know which direction they are going in."
It's a sad state of affairs when a professional and highly respected women is deemed as an 'edgy' candidate or some kind of 'wild card' option for a role well within her capabilities.