Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name. (William Morris - A Dream of John Ball)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A strange temporal coincidence...

If you are looking for relentlessly positive and upbeat assessments of all aspects of trade union organisation you may be in the wrong place. This blog has been a critical voice now for more than a decade.

It is hardly a novelty for me to suggest that the tradition of lay leadership in UNISON is honoured rather more in the breach than the observance. I have been criticising officials of my own trade union for years – and have often focused on my own (Greater London) Region.

For example, in February 2010 I published the farewell messages from respected UNISON official Tom Snow to his colleagues and to activists. Tom didn’t pull his punches and I was pleased to publish his shrewd observations that (in the Regional office); “There is no esprit de corps. It is difficult to define what the Region has actually done for UNISON members in London. It is little more than an office, a large one, containing many highly committed people, all unable to escape a very tight strait jacket. When branches have found ways to organise significant numbers of new members, their activists have not been brought in to tell us how they did it. That is a waste - symptomatic of managerial hubris and gross disrespect for activists.”

A month or so later I was scathing in my criticism of officials taking our Bromley and Greenwich branches into regional supervision. This was just one example of my criticising UNISON for the conduct of internal disciplinary matters – there were others. And still others. (and more…)

I have always been aware of the possibility of complaints being made to the Certification Officer – and reviewed a number of such complaints against UNISON back in May 2008. I was not keen to join those making such complaints, but when I did I explained why here.

What I don’t quite understand is why my persistent criticism of what I have perceived to be shortcomings in our trade union over many years appears to have been tolerated in the past, it is only now that I am party to a complaint to the Certification Officer that I find myself facing an internal disciplinary investigation.

Funny old thing coincidence, eh?

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