Sunday, November 22, 2015

UNISON never sleeps

‎Your humble blogger, together with a candidate in the election for UNISON General Secretary, were honoured this afternoon with the following message from a senior UNISON official;

"It may have escaped your notice that the comments made by bob oram et al have been removed.they are now subject to legal action by the union
I would suggest you also remove the comments.‎"

I replied in the following terms;

‎"What on earth are you talking about (using UNISON resources)?

To which comments do you (as an Assistant General Secretary of our Union, using the email address which the Union gives you) object and where have these comments been made?

With what authority do you threaten litigation on behalf of UNISON?‎"

The essence of the response which I received was as follows;

"Jon I do it in my capacity as the Assistant General Secretary responsible for our press office and our external profile and reputation
A serious allegation has been made against our union and our press operation I am perfectly entitled to protect the reputation of our union using this email .Our press office staff are currently doing the same using Unison resources .It is what we are paid to do.
It falls to us all to ensure we do not spread or perpetuate unfounded information that has the potential to damage our union‎."

I replied as follows;

"I still have no idea to which comments your earlier email referred.

Obviously you wouldn't have been using your UNISON email address, and your position as Assistant General Secretary, to intervene in a partisan way in the current General Secretary election!

Nor would you abuse your position and authority to silence legitimate criticism of the monumentally ill-judged comments reported from our General Secretary (and promoted by the @electprentis twitter feed). I imagine that, as a staunch Corbyn supporter yourself, you will be as distressed as I at how these unfortunate remarks have been (so predictably) spun.

I remain therefore perplexed as to which comments it is that you think that I and Mr Burgess should remove (and from where they should be removed).

Certainly, if you think that I have been associated with any unjustified attack upon UNISON I would be grateful for your immediate clarity on this point so that appropriate remedial action might be taken most promptly."

I am waiting for a further response and so want to make clear now that I utterly disassociate myself from any comments made anywhere and at any time which could bring UNISON into disrepute.

In particular, I disassociate myself from the remarks reported to have been made by our General Secretary in the Sun on Sunday, which have been spun as an attack upon Jeremy Corbyn.‎ (‎).

I salute those UNISON officials who are working on a Sunday evening at damage limitation after the all-too predictable reporting of these remarks elsewhere (‎).

‎And I have to say that I agree with those who have criticised the poor judgement which was shown in the making of these comments by a General Secretary who is surely experienced enough to have known better (‎).

Just to be clear, I assert that, in making these ill-judged comments our General Secretary breached UNISON Rules in that he acted against the interests of UNISON members.

That said, we all make mistakes and - in the spirit of the new politics for which Jeremy Corbyn has called - it would be wrong to denounce Dave Prentis personally for this error of judgement.

I hope that the UNISON officials who are working on our behalf this very evening are already drafting an unequivocal statement of support for Jeremy Corbyn around which UNISON members can unite.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.


Anonymous said...

Hello Jon, could this Assistant General Secretary to whom you refer have a close relationship with one of the election candidates in any way?

Anonymous said...

As the story was given to the Press Association and placed on their site after ten on Saturday night, it was clearly meant (and indeed expected) to be picked up by every paper possible on Sunday. Given the subject matter it was always going to be attractive to the right wing press eager to attack Corbyn. Even more so when this was the first big union attack. So Prentis knew exactly what he was doing and that the Sun would be one of the first to pick it up. It was clearly designed to maximise his publicity by attacking Corbyn. It is also noteworthy that he uses the ‘distraction’ of Trident as a stick to beat Jeremy. Given Unison’s own policy how does he reconcile this comment with the report in September in the Independent - ‘Unison, Britain’s largest union, is opposed. Dave Prentis, its general secretary, has described Trident as “a criminal waste of money the country clearly cannot afford”.’ Was publicity at any price better than none, especially when you are only ever prepared to fight for on of your own jobs?

Anonymous said...

And now Len McCluskey following Prentis' lead. Although he doesn't seem to be attracting the same level of opprobrium as Prentis for some reason.