Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Defending UNISON from its detractors

I was disappointed to miss the pre-NEC Xmas bash this evening (having to go back to the branch early evening) but was pleased to be at the House of Commons to hear one of UNISON's best friends in Parliament giving both a voice and a platform to UNISON members facing serious difficulties.

John McDonnell MP hosted a meeting addressed by Glen Kelly (speaking about the outrageous attack upon himself and three colleagues) and Caroline Bedale (explaining the scandalous assault upon her rights). In so doing John was defending and supporting some of the very best of UNISON.

He reported that he has received correspondence accusing him of aligning himself with the Union's "detractors" but clearly those who make such accusations are politically illiterate and hostile to UNISON's basic principles. UNISON Rule B.2.2 states that we are a "member-led" Union (that means that lay members determine our policies and our organisation) and Rule A.3 commits the Union to avoid discrimination on a number of grounds including "creed".

UNISON's detractors are those who attack good UNISON members such as Glenn and Caroline. Those behind these attacks are the ones who bring our Union into disrepute. It is indeed a paradox that, from our subscriptions, we pay their wages.

Glenn explained - to a public meeting in Parliament - that a Regional Organiser had given evidence in a tribunal that a training course for UNISON staff in the London Region had been told that officials needed to deal with the problem of "Trotskyists" in the Union (who should be "castigated"). This evidence, given truthfully by a respected official of our Union who has given decades of service (and is certainly no "Trot"!) is truly shocking.

As a member of our National Executive Council, elected for a fourth term on the basis of a clear commitment to democracy, I believe that there is now a compelling case for an independent labour movement investigation into the allegations which have been made about this training course.

If the allegations are not true then no one need fear such an investigation.

If the allegations are true then no on should resist such an investigation.

UNISON's most significant detractors are those of our paid officials who see their primary role as eliminating good activists because they do not like their politics.

I do not share the politics of the Socialist Party or the Socialist Workers Party (or any other such group).

I am a Labour Party member and (unlike certain other noted UNISON bloggers who make much of their Party membership) I always have been.

Unlike the Chair of our National Labour Link Committee I am honest about my Labour Party membership when seeking election in our Union (though I know that does me no favours).

I am also honest about my opposition to political witch hunting in our trade union, and that this is what is now going on.

Those responsible for this political witch hunt are - objectively - allies of David Cameron and the Tories since they are softening up our trade union so that we shall be less able to resist the attacks we shall face after the next General Election.

As regular readers Sid and Doris Trade-Union-Democracy will realise, I am a bit cross about this.

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