Wednesday, December 09, 2009

UNISON General Secretary Election...?

What follows is one of the questions which I asked ahead of the meeting of our National Executive Council. I have edited this post on Wednesday evening to include the response received.

I wrote to the President on 2 December to request that at our next meeting the National Executive Council gives consideration to exercising our power under Rule A2.2 to interpret our Rules in respect of a question which you will know has arisen (and has been discussed between national officials for some time).

The question which arises is how we should interpret the first sentence of Rule E3.2 which states that; “The General Secretary shall be elected and shall hold office for the maximum period of time prescribed by law.”

At least two interpretations of this Rule have been discussed for some time. There appear to be at least three possible interpretations as follows;

(1) The General Secretary shall hold office for no more than five years, taking into account s46(1)(b) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and there shall therefore be an election at least every five years;

(2) The General Secretary shall hold office for no more and no less than five years, taking into account s46(1)(b) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (and the uses of the words “shall” and “maximum” in the Rule) and there shall therefore be an election every five years;

(3) The General Secretary may (where nearing retirement) hold office for longer than five years, taking into account the provisions of s58 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (which would depend very much upon our having interpreted the Rules to this effect having regard to s58(2)(d)).

It is arguable that there could be a fourth interpretation that, where the General Secretary is approaching retirement, she or he must hold office until retirement (taking into account s58 and the uses of the words “shall” and “maximum” in the Rule).

Bearing in mind the recent difficulties experienced by UNITE I am sure that it will be in the best interests of UNISON if the NEC now uses its powers under Rule A2.2 (if advised that we may properly do so) in order to arrive at a definitive interpretation of this ambiguous Rule and I therefore request that we consider this matter.

Whilst we have the power to interpret the Rules I can see nothing in the Rule Book that would prohibit us from consulting widely before exercising that power, and would argue that this would be a wise course of action.

If the Presidential Team do not agree that Rule E3.2 is worded in an ambiguous way then I would be very grateful to be told what that Rule means in the circumstances, in which we find ourselves, with an incumbent General Secretary approaching retirement.

(For the avoidance of doubt - as they say! - I will not be standing again to be General Secretary of our Union (in spite of the impressive 7.5% I got last time!) - the point is that UNISON members should know what is going on about this, and that if members of our lay National Executive wish to be treated with respect we need to pursue precisely such questions).

The response from the Presidential Team, which I got just before today's meeting, was that in their view the Rules are not ambiguous but that in any event since Dave's term of office is up at the end of next year they will consider this question in the New Year and report to the NEC in "due course". So now you know...


nick venedi said...

Jon, I am glad you will not be standing again for the position of the General Sec not with that hair cut what you got! It just wouldn't work. On the other hand don't get too excited about this one and repeat the Geoff Martin mistake? In other words contribute to the removal of someone moderate and replace them with something much worst?? Do you ever learn? No!

nickvenedi said...

I see. Ok, yes I can think of a few things you can do with the rule book. Anyway, get well soon and get better before the xmas do and your birthday?

Anonymous said...

You really need to get a grip on reality - I think your memory is playing tricks on you.
Jon couldn't persuade the UL to back you and rightly so imo.

Your untrustworthy politically.

+ your blog is getting way ott at the minute its clear your jealous of Jon, but you are meant to be not only joint branch secretary but a friend of his?

You need to tone down the spiteful remarks.

Jon Rogers said...


Well John I will obviously have to rethink in the light of your pledge of support...

Anon may be being a little hard on Nick IMHO but I am sure he'll be fine with you looking after him.

nick venedi said...

Hey anon at 5.49 I won't respond to your silly comments in depth given that no one knows who you are. If you were serious you would tell us who you are? But I was so untrustworthy, as you put it (who ever you are) I was in post as Finance Convenor for 5 years? and won 3 elections? And as for Jon he knows I am always joking and he is like my brother. We don't always agree but that is a good thing. He was wrong to stand for the position of GS as he had no chance of winning and.... he even split the vote? Think about it? Well think about it if you exist that is?

Anonymous said...

Good one Nico!

Me said...

Anon 1 has got a point you do come across a little bitter towards Jon.

And oh dear do the left not trust you? I wonder if that has something to do with your flip floppy politics, cosying up to the right wing witchhunters who just use you and flatter your ego there never gonna give you anything.

oh and you advocated voting for Davros in the NEC elections - there are lines Nico, some on the left will never forgive you for that.

Anonymous said...

Who is Davros? I thought he was the leader of the (self-styled) master race of daleks?