Thursday, July 16, 2009

Four Good Trade Unionists

I've blogged before about the cases of four UNISON activists being disciplined by the Union in circumstances which have attracted adverse comment (including from Rory Bremner!).

I am on leave tomorrow or would make sure I was at the lobby of the disciplinary hearing from 8.30 am; The Grange, Holborn Hotel, 50-60 Southampton Row, WC1B (Nearest tubes Holborn or Russell Square.)

I understand that the four have been found "guilty" - rather than comment further upon that at this time I want to say something about these four activists.

Brian Debus of Hackney UNISON is a stalwart activist who shows the sort of dedication and commitment from a lay activist which keeps our Union in operation from one year (and one decade) to the next. Brian deserves recognition and respect rather than villification.

Onay Kasab ("Kas") of Greenwich UNISON is a model of a good and committed UNISON Branch Secretary. His enviable track record as a trade unionist is the sort of thing I would expect to read about as a role model in UNISON Focus. If nominations for awards at the TUC were made on merit alone, Kas would be a recipient.

Glenn Kelly of Bromley UNISON achieved a new first this year when - at his first Conference on the platform - our General Secretary quite deliberately quoted Glenn's words in his important speech on the future of our relationship with the Labour Party. Glenn was re-elected to our National Executive in spite of wide publicity given to the charges against him. Our members nationally in local government have chosen Glenn to continue to serve on our NEC. Their views should be respected.

Suzanne Muna of the Tenant Services Authority Branch I know less well than the other three on a personal basis - but I do know that she has led a small UNISON Branch through sometimes difficult circumstances. This is the sort of voluntary work for our trade union which should be recognised and respected.

In all, these are four good trade unionists - the sort of people who would be an asset on any Branch Committee and who honour UNISON by their commitment to and work for our trade union. All hold positions in our Union to which they have recently been re-elected in the face of widespread publicity given to the allegations against them.

All four have (IMHO) the misfortune to be members of the Socialist Party - but I do feel as a Labour Party member myself that I am in no position to cast aspersions on the political choices made by other comrades. I also believe that UNISON is a trade union and not a political party and that we have room within our ranks for those of many political views (excluding only the far right).

UNISON faces a series of hard fights in the coming years as the Government (of either colour) sets out to cut public spending (worsening the recession as they attack the jobs and living standards of our members). I hope that as we face these challenges Brian, Kaz, Glenn and Suzanne are standing in our ranks, in their elected positions, as part of our collective resistance to defend the interests of our members.

We are not so well provided with excellent activists that we can afford to throw them away!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

So should cadres for an external organisation be able to abuse and attack union members with impunity?

Anonymous said...

You should talk to your own cadre in your own office who explained it somewhat differently on his blog? Thought you two spoke to each other?

Anonymous said...

The Socialist Party acts as a political organisation inside UNISON producing newspapers, bulletins and election materials to promote their party/sect. Members of the party who are NOT union members leaflet UNISON organised workplaces to promote party/sect candidates during internal union elections.
The idea that in this case we are talking about four individual trade unionists who just happen to be associated with a leaflet is a fantasy. They operate to a party mandate not to a union members mandate. To claim otherwise is pure deceit. To believe otherwise is akin to accepting that the sun rotates around the earth.

Anonymous said...

The Morning Star/CPGB-ML acts as a political organisation inside UNISON producing newspapers, bulletins and election materials to promote their party/sect. Members of the party who are NOT union members leaflet UNISON organised workplaces to promote party/sect candidates during internal union elections.