Sharon Graham


Manage episode 301530728 series 1301252
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Following a sometimes ugly campaign, Britain's second largest trade union, Unite, has elected its first woman leader, Sharon Graham. But who exactly is she? Jealously guarding her privacy, Unite's new 52 year-old head represents a significant break with the union's retiring chief, Len McCluskey and, it would seem, his close political links with the Labour Party. Instead, centering her campaign on bringing the union "back to the workplace", Sharon Graham has emphasised her own focus on jobs, pay and conditions. She has called for "an obsession" with the Labour Party to stop and instead for "bad bosses" to be held to account. She claims to have won fifteen disputes without a defeat. But her policies are not without their critics. The strategy she has pioneered for "leveraging" disputes with employers by applying pressure across company activities has been attacked as "chilling". And within the union itself - where two-thirds of the members are men - accusations of misogyny have been levelled. Edward Stourton discovers how Sharon Graham has made it to the top of Unite, what makes her tick and what the union's members, employers, politicians and the public at large can expect from her. Among those taking part: Roz Foyer of the Scottish TUC; John Cooper of Unite; Gail Cartmail, President of the TUC; and Sebastian Payne of the Financial Times. Producer Simon Coates

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