Unison:Union Democracy on Trial

dave-prentis-pic-credit-twitter

Dave Prentis, general secretary, Unison Pic Credit: Twitter

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

On Monday a three day public hearing begins  into serious allegations over the running of the election campaign that saw Dave Prentis elected general secretary of Britain’s largest public sector union, Unison last year.

The Certification Officer has ordered the hearing after every candidate who stood against him filed complaints alleging that union resources were used by officials – who should be neutral during elections – to favour Dave Prentis against them.

The hearing is according to an Acas spokesperson is  unprecedented. There are  often grievances from individual candidates who feel they have been badly treated and quote the rule book back at  the  union but in this case every single candidate who stood against Dave Prentis has complained. Nor is it one  Left faction against another – whatever political standpoint any of the candidates might have – they appear to be united in complaining that the odds were stacked against them. I have also  written a news piece for Tribune magazine.

The four complainants are Heather Wakefield, John Burgess, Jon Rogers and Roger Bannister .

The hearing has an added spice because of the leaking of a covert tape  of an union official meeting in Congress House, London which appears to show overzealous support for ” Team Dave” as his election campaign was known by officials working in the union’s time and using union resources. This has been covered in Private Eye whose reporting seems likely to be referenced in the hearing.

Officially ACAS issued this release: “The applicants allege that, during the election period, the Union breached a number of its rules and a paragraph of the General Secretary 2015 Election Procedures as well as section 49 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This is the full hearing of the complaints following the preliminary hearing held on 6 October 2016.”

Full details of the proceedings and the issues are listed here.

As people can see it is a detailed series of complaints. It also raises questions around the scrutiny of elections by Electoral Reform Services and the original handling of the complaints and whether the scrutineers were sufficiently independent of the union.

One complaint says:”The Scrutineer/ Electoral Reform Society did not independently investigate and respond to the complaints that were made to it in relation to the General Secretary 2015 Election in accordance with the terms of reference of the election timetable and procedure. Specifically with reference to the complaints arising from the disclosure of the audio tape of the meeting held on 21 October in the UNISON Greater London Regional Office.”

It will also test the interpretations by both  the union and the complainants about exactly what was said to whom and where and whether this did effect the election.

And it contains allegations that a senior official – “Cliff Williams, Assistant General Secretary,_ encouraged paid officials across the Union to liaise with employers where the branch might be unsympathetic towards Dave Prentis, to work towards distributing literature in support of Dave Prentis.”

And there are allegations against Liz Snape ( who is the long time partner of Dave Prentis) and a union assistant general secretary, encouraged branches to nominate him.

The public hearing is at Fleetbank House,2-5 Salisbury Square LONDON EC4Y 8JX beginning at 10.0am.

9 thoughts on “Unison:Union Democracy on Trial

    • I recommend reading the official history of MI5 which is surprisingly open about the extent to which Prime Ministers have sanctioned British and allies intelligence to target left politicians and unions leaders since Labour came to power after WWII and the cold war intensified against anti capitalists.

  1. This is very concerning, thank you for writing about this and speaking as a Unison member, I will be following this case very close.

  2. I feel like everything is corrupt these days… fighting for working class and what matters in what ever sector you work in… but I striked and I stood by it asking for the support from unison which Mr Prentis said we would have 100% to stop the privatisation of the NHS did we get that backing we lost so there’s your answer! Wanting to save the NHS was a battle worth fighting and the government wanting to privatise… well it makes you wonder who answers to who wouldn’t you say!

  3. Reblogged this on Socialist Fight and commented:
    The outcome of this case will have a powerful impact on the chances of Ian Allinson in the current Unite General Secretary election.

    Jerry Hicks pointed to the constant campaigning by Unite officials for McCluskey during his General Secretary election campaigns. If they are prevented from doing so this time Ian Allinson may be the new Jeremy Corbyn from the other vital wing of the labour movement.

  4. A truly enlightening piece of literature, thankyou for this informative article only confirming my corrupt beliefs within this institution that i pay each month out of my hard earned wages.

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