Unite has selected a hardline general secretary ahead of a looming battle with British Airways this winter.
The mastermind of the Unite action against BA, Len McCluskey, has been elected to lead the union following a ballot.
McCluskey received 101,000 votes – almost 50,000 more than his nearest rival. However, turn out was at 16 per cent – potentially impairing his mandate for action.
The new leader announced the plan for cabin crew to strike over Christmas last year, accusing BA management of “bullying, harassing and demonising” those who supported action against changes to working practices.
He will replace joint general secretaries Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson who have been in post since the union formed in 2007.
The result is expected to be confirmed when the union’s executive meets on Wednesday.
Following his appointment McCluskey said: “My first task now will be to bring our union together and unite it in a campaign against the devastation the Government is unleashing against working people and their communities throughout the land.”
Candidate Jerry Hicks came second in the election with 52,000 votes, Les Bayliss was third with 46,000 votes, and Gail Cartmail came fourth with 39,000 votes.
Unite has more than 1.4 million members and was formed by the merger between two of Britain’s leading unions, the Transport and General Workers Union and Amicus.