Friday, February 26, 2010

A legal victory for UNISON members

The decision of the Certification Officer in the case of Bedale -v- UNISON (which has now been promulgated and can be read online here) is a good result for UNISON.

UNISON members now have clarity that, apart from the specific exemptions set out in our election procedures, the resources of the trade union must not be used to campaign for candidates in internal trade union elections (whoever these candidates may be!) After an earlier attempt to bring such clarity was abandoned this is good news.

This prohibition on the use of UNISON resources is fair since - were it permitted to use the resources of the Union to campaign for particular candidates this would be bound to benefit incumbents. Incumbents (myself on occasion included!) tend to win trade union elections because of the obvious electoral advantages of incumbency.

Democracy in trade unions is important primarily because it offers the opportunity to hold office-holders to account by threatening to unseat them. Accountability is all about the ability to sack someone! Therefore, all we can do to level the playing field between incumbents and their challengers we should do as best we can as this is in the interests of democracy and our members.

I will return to the detail of this important decision but for now, I hope that all those who care for UNISON, our Rules and our democracy will welcome this positive decision in the interests of our members.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


As you know i seldom spend time reading or commenting on blogs, however I came across this after reading caroline's court decision.

The court decision is welcome in that right wing have been caught out for the breaches of rule that they have continually flouted without sanction. Let us see now if anyone faces any sort of action against them as has been meated out on the left for nothing.

However i do not agree with you over using union resources in the right to campaign.

In NALGO as you are aware branches could campaign for their preferred candidate and we opposed its abolition including yourself.

In terms of democracy i also don't agree. Firstly why shouldn't a branch who makes a democratic decision not campaign on behalf of their favoured candidate?

It is the current system that favours the incumbent not the other way round. The incumbent gets to put out reports, speak at meetings etc using union resources, also if they are in any organsied (left right or labour) group they have access to money and resources to campaign that an individual does not have without the backing of a branch.

Also to deny the local branches the right to campaign for a candidate also favours the bureacracy who have a full time machine to help orgainse for them with impunity.

Glenn Kelly