Saturday, November 05, 2016

This is what free speech in our trade union movement looks like (it's not pretty...)

When I started this blog, a little over ten years ago, I explained why I was doing so, and said; “ I believe that this blog is entirely within UNISON Rules and I don’t intend to carry any content which attacks our Union. This is not to say that I won’t publish criticisms of policies or decisions with which I disagree (or criticisms of me if anyone wants to post them!) This is in accordance with UNISON Rule B.2.5 which commits the Union to encouraging democratic debate.”

 In more than two thousand posts over the past decade I have occasionally made good on that promise, to the pleasure of some readers. I have tried to engage in debate, often publishing critical comments (even though these are generally anonymous) and have removed or amended posts in response to criticism where I thought that warranted.

If you are reading this blog and are offended, or feel that I have said something that is unjust or incorrect you are welcome to respond and I will publish your response as a comment (even if it is anonymous) as long as it is not itself unreasonably offensive or defamatory.

However, sometimes people may be upset when I publish comments which allege breaches of UNISON Rules, or suggest that anything we have done falls short of excellence. They may then pursue other remedies rather than make their criticisms in the open.

For example;
On 1 December 2015 I alleged a breach of Rules D.8 and E.3.3 and of paragraph 7 of Schedule C to the Rule Book;
On 5 December 2015 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.2;
On 10 December 2015 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.5;
On the following day, I alleged again a breach of Rule B.2.2;
On 14 December 2015 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.6;
On 17 December 2015 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.2;
On 2 February 2016 I alleged a breach of Rules B.1.4 and 2.2;
On the following day I reported an allegation of a breach of Rule B.2.6;  
On 10 February 2016 I alleged a breach of Rules B.1.4 and 2.2;
On the following day I linked to a post which could be read as alleging a breach of Rule B.1.4;
On 30 March 2016 I alleged a breach of Rule P.2.3.1;
On 23 April 2016 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.1;
On 11 May 2016 I alleged breaches of Rules B.2.1 and 2.2;
On 18 May 2016 I alleged a breach of Rules B.1.4 and 2.2;
On 20 May 2016 I alleged a breach of Rule B.2.2;
On the same day I alleged breaches of Rule P.2.3.1 and B.2.2;
On the following day I alleged a breach of Rule P.17.1 and D.1.1.

These particular posts have been the subject of criticism – not in comments on this blog (which I would have published) but elsewhere (and I really cannot comment about where).

These criticisms were far from the least, or the least harsh, which you can find if you go back over the past ten years of posts on this blog. And yet it is these criticisms about which I am being questioned by the trade union.

It is interesting that these questions (and the decision to initiate a disciplinary investigation to which they have given rise) have arisen since UNISON became aware of my complaint to the Certification Officer, submitted on 27 April 2016 (after I was denied the opportunity to pursue issues at the April meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC)).

Given that I have spent ten years being scathing online about my criticisms of various actions (and omissions) by and on behalf of UNISON and yet it is only now, after I have had recourse to the Certification Officer, that I am being questioned about some recent (and less scathing) criticisms I really hope not ever to have to rely upon my legal right not to be subject to unjustified discipline by my trade union.

You would almost think we (UNISON) had never been here before...

Incidentally, I consider any instruction to remain silent about the abuse of UNISON’s disciplinary rules in these circumstances to contravene Rule B.2.2.

If anyone would like a copy of the UNISON Rule Book it is available online.
















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