Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Follow the Barnet example - and unite to fight the cuts

I'm pleased to read Aditya Chakrabortty in today's Guardian (p36 of the print edition) writing in praise of my friend and comrade John Burgess.


Following the disappointing outcome of the election for UNISON General Secretary (and not only for those of us who supported John) it is important to draw breath, take stock and remember that it is at the level of the rank and file that our trade union is most relevant to the interests of our members.

John Burgess is a model Branch Secretary and anti-cuts campaigner, and - whatever becomes of UNISON nationally - we do indeed, as Chakrabortty argues, need more such activists.

Not least because the longer we have to assess the outcome of the General Secretary election the worse the result looks.

Turnout fell catastrophically, which is perhaps the most alarming feature of the result. For all the sound and fury of four campaigns, more than ninety percent of UNISON members were not motivated to put pen to paper. If we are going to rebuild our Union we must be honest with ourselves about this.

Both the candidates who had stood for election before saw their share of the vote fall, and the victor commanded (fractionally) less than 50% of the votes (for the first time in four elections).

I'm disappointed that the candidate I supported came fourth, but I'm more disappointed for UNISON at what the result tells us about our ability to motivate and engage with our members.

‎In this context it is unfortunate (but rightly unavoidable) that the various allegations concerning the election must be dealt with. We shall hear further from the Returning Officer next month, but that may well not be the end of the matter.

UNISON members are entitled to confidence in compliance with the Union's agreed election procedures - and that may well mean we are in for a difficult few months as matters work themselves out.

However, we must also continue, as trade unionists, to resist the attacks we face from the Government and (on their behalf) the employers. This requires us to seek unity in action whatever we feel about the disputes surrounding the election.

It is helpful therefore to reflect that none of the candidates are personally implicated in any of the alleged misconduct details of which are in the public domain.‎ 

UNISON members will therefore expect that all the candidates, and their supporters, will be prepared to work together constructively in the here and now to promote and defend the interests of UNISON members.

‎There are processes in place to review the allegations which have arisen concerning the election, and these will run their course. 

In the mean time we need also to unite in precisely the spirit of determination about which Aditya Chakrabortty writes in today's Guardian.

We can all learn from Barnet UNISON.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.


Rog T said...

Knowing John and having heard the audio recording of what was being said about him, it is pretty clear to me why many Unison members wanted to steer clear of the whole process. It is pretty clear that there was all sorts of shenanigans, which were officially sanctioned by paid officials. It seems the process is ongoing. What Unison needs is a proper debate about what its purpose is and who it serves. It is pretty clear, as someone who has worked with John on many campaigns in Barnet, that John would be an excellent person to drive that debate forward. We can only speculate as to the motives for those who wish to obstruct that debate.

Anonymous said...

Capitulation is contagious