Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Schedule C.7 of the UNISON Rule Book
As I was leaving the office this evening after a meeting of the Pension Fund Investment Panel literally no one asked my views on the provisions of Schedule C.7 of the UNISON Rule Book.
Regulars outside the Lambeth branch office (Sid and Doris Skunk-weed) will be able to confirm that, of all the things one can be offered on our corner of Acre Lane, an opportunity to offer an opinion on Schedule C of the UNISON Rule Book is very rarely one of them.
Therefore I shall share my views here.
Schedule C governs elections within UNISON, including those we are required to hold by law (for General Secretary and the National Executive Council (NEC)) and some which we are not (Service Group Executives).
Schedule C.7 gives the NEC the power to determine, among other things, the method of voting in our internal elections ("whether to be by simple majority, by single transferable vote, by multi-transferable vote, or by some other system").
In my eleven years on our NEC we have yet to have a serious discussion about whether we should use any system other than simple majority in any of the elections which we have held. We continue to use the system we have used, without debating this.
One consequence of the use of the "simple majority" method (in which ballot papers are marked with a cross or tick and whoever gets the most votes wins, regardless of whether they have a majority of the votes cast) is that it imposes some discipline upon those of like minds to stand only one candidate so as not to "spilt the vote."
This may be an approach welcomed by those who value the approach to democracy developed in the former Soviet Union (and not only because they can rest assured that critics to their left will never manage such discipline and restraint).
However, it may be unhealthy for the culture of our trade union that employees (and some lay activists perhaps) are "whipped" into line to support an "official" candidate (not, of course that that ever happens).
It may be that it would be healthier for UNISON if some preferential system of voting allowed members to express their opinions in greater depth, and meant that a wider range of candidates could take the risk of offering themselves to our members without fear that their supporters, by backing their chosen candidate, might contribute to the victory of a candidate they would oppose over another candidate whom they would have preferred.
Or it may not.
There are arguments on both sides.
I would simply like to hear those arguments before we embark upon another General Secretary election.
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.