As I explained in the previous post in this blog, UNISON Conference has explicitly affirmed the right of branches to make and campaign for recommendations in national ballots. This is in line with the principle of maximum debate before policy is decided and unity in action once it has been.
When we ballot our members, as in the case of LGPS 2014, then that ballot is the mechanism by which policy is decided. Therefore, during the ballot, policy has not been determined and members and branches are, as our National Delegate Conference has affirmed, at liberty to make their own recommendations.
Yet today a bulletin has been circulated from the UNISON Centre purporting to instruct branches that they must campaign exclusively for the recommendation of "their" Service Group Executive. (This is not simply a wilful misreading of UNISON Rules and guidelines it is also laughable in that it can hardly apply to branches with members in more than one Service Group.)
I don't believe that this is a serious threat to take action against those of us who are campaigning for rejection, as that would be absurd (and I would have to be the first to face such action!) I think that the officials who wrote the circular know full well that they are acting outside our Conference policy and issuing unenforceable edicts.
The purporse of this sorry little circular is to discourage those branches who have clear policy in favour of rejection from campaigning amongst their own members for their own policy by attempting to mislead activists about their rights under Rule and strike fear into the hearts of those acting in accordance with their rights. This abuse of process is a classic example of bullying.
If national officials really believed that they had done a good deal they would obviously not seek to stifle debate in this way, which shames all those associated with it. I have made a complaint to the General Secretary about this and would encourage other members to do likewise.
Dave Prentis made clear that the eventual decision would be made by our members in a ballot, and the integrity of that position will be undermined if the bullying approach of the authors of today's shabby little circular is allowed to stand.
The circular breaches UNISON Rules and should be withdrawn.
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