A little more than a year ago I expressed my concern here at a decision to prevent a UNISON member standing for election to the National Executive Council because they had been suspended from holding office (although at that time they had not been found guilty of any disciplinary offence).
This is what I said in March of last year;
“Suspension is not a disciplinary sanction but a precautionary measure. If UNISON were to interpret our Rules so as to prevent members who are suspended from holding office from standing for election this would deny members the democratic right to nominate and vote for a candidate who has not been found guilty of any offence. It would leave those who decide about such matters vulnerable to the perception that decisions on suspensions were being taken in order to pre-empt Union elections.”
The case has now been decided by the Certification Officer, as UNISON did indeed stand by this questionable interpretation of the Rules and this was challenged. The Certification Officer has found that UNISON breached the law by preventing a member from seeking election to office because they were suspended.
The Certification Officer says, in a judgement which will be published soon;
“First, the right of a union member to stand for election is an important right of membership, as in any democratic organisation, and should not be taken away unless the members have so decided in a clearly expressed rule to that effect. Secondly, at the time that a rule C7.4 suspension is imposed, the member has not been found to have committed a disciplinary offence and it is therefore to be supposed that the suspension is not intended as a penalty.”
I won’t comment further on any other aspects of the case in question at this time, but will observe that – while the
We wouldn’t accept it from the employers and we ought not to have applied it to ourselves. All UNISON members owe a debt to the claimant who pursued this case.