Claims that UNISON is anti-democratic are bogus

Below is a breakdown of the facts relating to the unison action statement on the recent NEC decision on the election procedures. The original text of the statement is in italics  and the commentary in red.

UNION DEMOCRACY AND RIGHT TO CAMPAIGN UNDER THREAT.

At the 6th December NEC a new set of elections procedures were passed that we believe are not only a breach of the rules of the union but also of our conference policy.    

There is no breach of UNISON’s rules, the election procedures are within the law and within UNISON’s rules and has little to do with conference policy.    

The new election procedure states:

“No nominee or candidate shall invite or accept any donation or contribution in money or kind from any organisation or company, including from any provider of goods or services to UNISON, any political party or any employer in which unison organises.  For the avoidance of doubt an outside organisation or company includes but is not limited to an organisation, club, association or other entity which consists wholly or partly of UNISON members and is not provided for in UNISON rules. In determining whether or not something fits into this category, income resources and formal structures would be considered .This is not an exhaustive list.”

Who would have any issue with this? Why would the union want outside interference in its procedures? It would not be acceptable to have a political party or organisation supporting candidates. It is a reasonable expectation that those standing for office support the aims, objectives, values and rules of our union. It is worth noting that the hard-left faction asked for the definition of an outside organisation and they clearly fall into this category. Claims that they are a grass roots movement of unison members campaigning from within can easily be disproven. There is a plethora of evidence to demonstrate that they do not work within the rules of the union, that they actively campaign against the aims and objectives of they union, that they bully and harass officials of the union and that their interests are not those of the union.  There is overwhelming evidence that they are backed by the rape apologist SWP and the militant Socialist party.

Not satisfied with Banning members of political parties or organisations campaigning last year in the SGE elections in support of their members, the union is now effectively banning any group of unison members getting together to campaign.

This claim is not factual, the union is not banning members, it is preventing outside organisations from campaigning against the union and having undue influence over its democratic processes. Unison action broad left is not a democratic organistation, it does not comply with UNISON’s rules, procedures or protocols. As demonstrated at the NEC meeting of the 6th December 2018, they do not support collective responsibility or accountability. They are not recognised by UNISON, they actively campaign against UNISON, they use bullying and harassing tactics in support of their own aims.

UNISON is a listening union that encourages members to engage with its democratic processes within the rules of the union. The hard-left faction does not operate within the rules of the union and are backed by extremist political groups.

This is clearly aimed at trying to ban and silence UnisonAction from campaigning in the forthcoming NEC elections. It is our view that this is a clear breach of the rules of the union.

Unison action have determined their own destiny by virtue of their actions and activities. They have self-determined their own status outside of UNISON’s rules. As an independent trade union, UNISON can determine its own rules and procedures within the law outside of the influence of external bodies. There is no breach of UNISON’s rules here.        

The right of members to campaign is specifically provided for in Rule B2.5 and our national conference in 2001 further clarified this when it passed composite I contained in the democracy in unison guidelines.

Rule B2.5 states:

To promote and safeguard the rights of members to have an adequate opportunity to participate in the initiation and development of policy making, through meetings, conferences, delegations or ballots, and to encourage the maximum democratic debate, together with the right to campaign to change policy, while at all times acting within the rules and agreed policy.

The Democracy in UNISON guidelines (link below) are a clear and unambiguous set of principles.

https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2013/06/On-line-Catalogue133053.pdf

The NEC is bound by Rule D2.1 “not do anything that is inconsistent with these Rules or the policy of the Union as laid down by the National Delegate Conference”. 

The arbitrary selection of sentences from particular rules is disingenuous, as it removes the context. As with all things, rules cannot be read in isolation. The suggestion or rather allegation here, is that the NEC have acted outside of the rules. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is just another example of wishful thinking on behalf of the faction. As the DIU guidelines state Outside bodies should not be able to seek to undermine the established and agreed policies of the union”. This is clear and unambiguous. Therefore, the NEC is acting within the rules, guidance and policy of the union.

Rule D 2.1 states:

FUNCTIONS AND AUTHORITY

The general management and control of the Union between National Delegate Conferences shall be vested in the National Executive Council, which shall comprise representatives elected from the Regions and Service Groups plus four national black members’ seats, two young members’ seats and two disabled members’ seats. It shall have full power and authority to act  on behalf of the Union in every respect and for every purpose falling within the objects of the Union. It shall not do anything that is inconsistent with these Rules or the policy of the Union as laid down by the National Delegate Conference.

The fact that the NEC have full power and authority to act on behalf of the Union in every respect and for every purpose falling within the objects of the Union, is something that the faction is totally opposed to. It is worth remembering that NEC members are elected for that specific purpose as custodians of the union’s rules and democratically decided objectives. The NEC does have the power and responsibility to make executive decisions on behalf of the union as this rule clearly demonstrates.

As such we believe that the new election rules agreed by a majority of the NEC are acting outside of the rules of the union and conference policy.

This is a clear distortion of the facts which contradicts the points they are making above, or rather it is conveniently ignored. The DIU guidelines have this to say about collective responsibility. 

Collective Responsibility

3.1 Once a policy is established it is important that all constituent parts of the union work together to promote it and take collective responsibility in supporting it.

3.2 This principle was reinforced by the 1998 National Delegate Conference which decided: ‘there is an obligation on branches, regions and the NEC to promote existing policy and to accept collective responsibility once decisions have been democratically taken. Once policy has been agreed by democratic means at an appropriate level, all members should expect that those who may not have agreed with the decision establishing policy but were in a minority, should not be able simply to withdraw it. Such action would undermine the whole principle of collective strength and solidarity which the democracy of the union is established to promote. Democracy cannot thrive if agreed policies count for nothing. Outside bodies should not be able to seek to undermine the established and agreed policies of the union.

It is not the NEC who are acting outside of the rules and conference policy, it is those that associate themselves with the hard-left faction. Their activities and deliberate refusal to work within the rules and support democratic process is akin to anarchy, as they seek to undermine the core principles of UNISON.

There is also a question whether this would also be in contravention of the Human Rights act and the freedom of assembly.

Article 11: Freedom of assembly and association has nothing to do this. The below link provides information as to the provision of article 11. There is no attempt by UNISON to prevent the existence of the faction, the NEC decision is to prevent external organisations form influencing the democratic process.

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-11-freedom-assembly-and-association

In a further worrying development a number of us have been threatened with action being taken against us for an alleged breach of collective responsibility for daring to raise our concerns and voting against the proposals. 

If this is the case, then it is evident that they are not working within the rules and objectives of the union and the threat of disciplinary action under these circumstances is within the rules of the union.

It is urgent that branches and members raise their concerns with regards the new proposals by passing resolutions at branch, region and raise it on the Service group Executives. 

This is a prima facia case of these individuals flouting UNISON’s rules, protocols and conference policy. The act of encouraging others to do so is in my opinion a disciplinary matter. They are clearly failing to follow rules and and in particular collective responsibility. It is reasonable for members to expect elected officials to follow the rules and procedures of the union and for them to uphold the values and procedures of their union. This behaviour is a wanton act of vandalism and a demonstration of the anti-democracy attitude of this this faction.  

Vicky Perrin –                     NEC member Yorkshire and Humberside

Jim McFarlane –                NEC member Scotland

Hugo Pierre –                    Black members NEC member

April Ashley –                    Black members NEC member

Jacqui Berry –                    NEC member South East

Michelle Goodman –       NEC member South West

Steve North –                      NEC member North West

It may be a reasonable assumption that those that have put their names to this document are members of the Socialist party, perhaps they would like to either confirm or deny that?

Thanks for reading.

GI Jayne

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