This is the last, for the time being, extract from my memoirs (which you can purchase at https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/an-obscure-footnote-in-trade-union-history). This concerns a little remarked upon overlap between vampire lore and UNISON rules;
“Anyone familiar with the legend of the vampire, as it has come down to us through 70s Hammer Horror films, will know that they cannot enter a house unless invited in. Under UNISON Rules (Rule G.9.1 for aficionados of the Rule Book), the same applies to Regional officials and UNISON Branches. A Regional official may (other than in certain specified and exceptional circumstances) only visit a UNISON Branch at the invitation of the branch. This is a rule which is now more often honoured in the breach than in the observance, as many branch activists do not pay sufficient attention to the Rules and believe that the paid officials have an authority over activists which they do not have.
It had always, however, been my practice, as Branch Secretary, to invite our Regional organiser to meetings of our Branch Committee. I’ve never felt that I have anything to hide from the paid officials of the trade union and, since there are many occasions on which a branch needs to call upon paid officials to do their job and support our membership I have found it useful to be able to point out to them, when requesting support, that they had been invited to the meeting at which we had agreed upon a course of action, whether or not they had been able to attend.
I had worked, over the years, with some excellent and committed Regional organisers (I would single out Greg Thomson and Lucille Thirlby as colleagues who became friends). By 2012 I had been working for some time alongside Stuart Barber, a very experienced official whom I respected but who did have something of a penchant for winding up left-wing members of the Branch Committee (and had a reputation for undermining left-wing Branch Secretaries elsewhere in London). In July of 2012 the patience of the Branch Committee had worn thin and, against my advice (and in Stuart’s absence) the Committee agreed to withdraw the standing invitation to our Regional organiser to attend the Committee.
The following month Stuart did not attend but the Region sent a more junior official (uninvited) whom the Committee agreed to admit to our meeting as a courtesy whilst objecting to the Regional Head of Local Government. The next month, September, Stuart turned up at the Town Hall to attend our Branch Committee and I had to come down to reception to explain to him that, as he wasn’t invited, he wouldn’t be admitted to the building.
Our insistence on asserting our right under Rule not to invite the Region to our Branch Committee became quite controversial and, at our November meeting we were visited by the Regional Secretary and Regional Head of Local Government (whom we invited in). I think they thought that the Lambeth Branch Committee would be a gaggle of newspaper-selling “trots” who they would lecture into good behaviour but they weren’t prepared for the measured and reasoned disappointment with the previous conduct of the Regional Organiser from a large and diverse body of ordinary shop stewards.
Having established our right (and that we were right) the branch resumed the practice of inviting our Regional organiser to our meetings (on a meeting by meeting basis).”