Piss and vinegar

Piss and vinegar

The hard-left faction have put out their latest newsletter, which removes any doubt that they are an external body whose aims are to take control of our union. This will not come as a shock to regular readers or anyone who has had any dealings with them in the past.

It is of course filled with the usual rhetoric and the assertion that the union is run by a right wing cartel who are running scared of the faction. They also claim that they were banned from campaigning for this very reason. The facts are there were not banned from doing anything and such is the size of their Stalinist egos, they believe that the prevention of outside bodies interfering with UNISON’s democratic process was solely aimed at them.

The above reveals more about them than is first evident. The celebration of members having taken successful industrial action to win disputes is something we all take pride in. Ensuring that we display our gratitude, solidarity and draw our inspiration from is quite righty something we would want to celebrate. Who better than the elected leader of our union to draw together that success for the benefit of conference? The suggestion that this was nothing more than ego trip for Prentis, is narcissistic gaslighting at its best. The hard-left well known for their highjacking of industrial action campaigns and attempts to reflect the glory onto themselves is apparent here in all its green eyed glory. Shock horror! Our union backs and supports members taking industrial action; who would have thought it?

So the hard-left faction will be putting up a single left candidate; can’t think who that will be? I am not entirely sure why there would be a need to develop demands? It would be normal to develop some kind of manifesto in support of candidacy for the purpose of election, unless it’s about making demands upon themselves, which would be bizarre! It is also strange that they believe as an outside body, they would be able to sponsor and support a candidate in this or any other elections?

Prima facia evidence that this external body is seeking to undermine our union.

If I were to draw a comparison with the hard-left faction, it would be with the Brexit party. Sedition is their aim by the spreading of untruths, exaggeration and denying the facts. Like the Brexit party they are determined to destroy a functioning body that has the interests of its members at heart. Anyone who points out their failings or the facts is immediately labelled “right wing” “Bairite” or worse. This of course is a tactic to close down debate and dehumanise anyone who is against them. In using these labels, it is easy for them to dismiss what is is said, so they neither have to justify what they are saying or take any responsibility.

I am not aware of anyone who has been “witch hunted” by our union. I am aware of a number of people that have been subject to rule I and other processes because they have breached unison’s rules, or behaved in a manner that is unacceptable towards members of staff. In any process, decisions are made based on evidence, not some McCarthyistic ideology as the hard-left faction would have you believe. The decisions and outcomes are made by lay members, having taken into account evidence presented.

This faction are not UNISON, they are actively campaigning to undermine the union and its values. UNISON is a democratic union that puts members at the heart of everything it does and I for one want to keep it that way.

Thanks for reading.

GI Jayne

Analysing the unison action broad left manifesto

Before anyone says that the document is not produced by the hard left faction ‘unison action broad left left’, let’s just be clear, they have produced it.

This is a short analysis of the document that is accompanying the hard left faction’s slate. If you disagree with this analysis, I welcome your comments. I would also welcome any comments from the candidates themselves. I very much doubt they will. As they have been whipped not to respond to this blog for fear of being exposed.

The National Executive Council Elections are very important for the leadership of our union. Every 2 years, we the members elect the leaders of our union. The NEC works in a democratic way on the principles of collective responsibility and accountability. They are a diverse group who represent the entirety of our union and make major decisions through discussion, debate, consensus and democratic process. The NEC employ staff to assist in delivering its work program and maintain its structures, including operating within the rules and values of the union. The governance of the union is overseen by the NEC who are lay members just like you.

FOR A LEADERSHIP THAT LEADS

We need a serious national leadership for joined-up strike action against the government & employers.

The hard-left fact believe that the response to any issue must be strike action. Driven on by their SWP/Socialist party sponsors, their intent is to use industrial action, not to better the working conditions and pay of our members, but to politicise disputes with the aim of overthrowing the government. In these circumstances the views and needs of members will become a means to achieving this primary aim. They do not care about what happens to members or the issues that arise out of conflict. They are very often no where to be seen after a dispute or be involved in the work required in rebuilding good industrial relations.

What this statement actually means is that they want to remove the legal safeguards and protections afforded to members, so they can initiate strike action whenever and for whatever they want. The hard-left faction care nothing for the consequences, legal or otherwise. They choose to shout it down claiming that the union is undemocratic and blairite. Nothing could be further from the truth, the final say on strike action is always that of the members.

ACROSS THE SECTORS

We must support members in every sector – including the private and community sectors, fighting to win collective bargaining rights.

This is an attempt to gain votes from the private and community sectors. The suggestion that UNISON does not support them is ridiculous. Hard working activists in both of these sectors are fighting to gain agreements with employers supported by the union. Of course the hard-left faction’s approach is to use strike action to try and force employers to their will.

FOR UNITY

UNISON must take a high profile lead, alongside other trade unions in fighting racism, as well as working with organisations opposing racism and fascism. For an anti austerity message of jobs, homes and services – not racism.

This one somewhat misses the mark as well as being offensive in the suggestion that UNISON does not fight racism or have a high profile in the fight. Of all the trade unions, UNISON’s record on fighting racism and fascism is solid. UNISON does have many affiliations with anti racism groups such as Hope not Hate, an arrangement that goes back to their inception. Let’s not forget that the hard-left faction wants to put in a motion to prevent Hope not Hate from attending our conferences.

I am not quite sure because of the way it is written, that they aren’t saying that UNISON is not putting out messages of anti austerity, jobs homes and services and putting out racist messages. If this is the case, they should be ashamed of themselves. Let’s remember, they were content to share racist materials on their facebook page. They refused to remove this material, which is there to this day. They attacked Dave Prentis for showing leadership and taking action against anti-semitism. Check their social media output and you will find nothing that attacks anti-semitism.

They were repeatedly asked to give their position on anti-semitism, they never responded!

FOR A SOCIALIST, ANTI-AUSTERITY LABOUR PARTY

No more members’ money should go to support MPs/Councillors attacking Jeremy Corbyn. We must support any Councillors making a stand against cuts and call on Labour Councils to stand up against the cuts now.

The right to criticise the Labour leader or indeed any labour politician is the right of all Labour Party members where there is justification. To cut off support for people that share our values and provide a voice for us in parliament and local councils is naïve. It’s a bit “pot calling kettle” this one, given the amount of abuse they have given Dave Prentis and other officials of our union.

Labour Link have the responsibility to make decisions about financial support, which is actually limited in its operation. The fact the SWP/Socialist party members believe that they can dictate UNISON policy outside of rules beggars belief. The issues that surround Labour councils and austerity are very complicated and that is as much as I will say in this critique.

As far as I am aware, the Labour Party are a socialist anti austerity party, or am I mistaken? What they really mean is a SWP/Socialist party influenced Labour Party.

FOR A GENERAL ELECTION NOW!

We should be using our influence in the TUC for a national demonstration to kick this government out.

Anyone who believes that work is not being undertaken by UNISON through the TUC and Labour link does not know our union. UNISON and the TUC could call for a national demonstration, but in reality what would it achieve at this time? Time effort and resources would be better utilised in creating a credible alternative that is electable and supports UNISON’s aims and objectives.

Is having a demonstration really what is is important to UNISON members who are struggling with the cost of living, the threats to jobs and services and the uncertainty of Brexit?

FOR DEMOCRACY

Members and activists must have full transparent, democratic control over the union.

These elections are a transparent democratic process and members will make the decision on who represents them on the National Executive Council. The NEC has governance on all things which are moderated through the rules of the union and the agreed protocols and processes. What the hard-left faction mean by this is not actually about democracy or indeed transparency. What they want is to be able to ignore the rules, processes and procedures that do not fit their objectives. They want to overturn democratic decisions and scrap collective responsibility. Those that are currently on the NEC don’t even sit with the NEC. They prefer to be in a different room and not to engage fully with the democratic process. See my previous post  Upstairs Downstairs 

FOR FAIRER BRANCH FUNDING

Put the money where the work is!

The issue of funding is always going to be an issue as the resources of the union are not infinite. What they mean by putting the money where the work is; is linked to their attitude towards strike and funding of the SWP/Socialist party. There have been too many examples of monies being spirited away from branches preventing much needed work and functionality. There are strict rules surrounding the use of members money for good reason. Doubtless there will be much debate at National Delegate conference on this subject.

DEFEND THE RIGHT TO DISSENT!

Branches and members must have the right to campaign against national policy – including opposing pay deals – free from interference of unelected union officers.

This really does demonstrate their anti-democratic, anti-rules, separatist stance. One of their number was suspended from office and they perpetuated the myth that it was for speaking out against the Health pay deal. This turned out not to be true; the individual concerned was put under investigation because of their behaviour towards a member of staff. Sadly I don’t know the precise details, but is was sufficient to warrant an investigation. The matter has since been dealt with through the appropriate process. The decision to suspend the individual and the subsequent investigation was made by Lay officials of the NEC who have responsibility for these matters.

The NEC employs staff to undertake certain duties and on its behalf and work within the rules and direction of the NEC. All decisions are made by elected Lay officials. In the example given, the individual concerned appeared before a panel of elected Lay officials who made the decision based on the evidence presented under the a process of natural justice. Having heard the case, the decision was made to lift the suspension and as far as I am aware, no obvious sanction was imposed. Of course none of this was mentioned by the hard-left faction or on the individuals campaign facebook page. The hard-left faction continue to perpetuate the myth that their comrade was a victim of of over zealous paid officials.

Taking all of the above into account, what exactly is the relevance to ordinary subs paying members? Well not a lot really. As a member I want the people we elect to operate within the rules, support our union and most importantly support them when they need it. Unison action broad left work on an SWP/Socialist party agenda; they take a parochial view of the world based on their own agenda.

Reader, I ask you to seriously consider what a vote for anyone on their slate will mean for our union. We need strong voices to represent us and we need people who are interested in the issues that matter to us and that put our union first. It is perfectly ok for people to have different political view points but bring our union’s aims and values into those politics, not those political aims into our union.

The elections start on the 15th April 2019 and run until the 17th May, please choose wisely and continue to keep our union something to be proud of.

Thanks for reading.

G I Jayne

Upstairs Downstairs

Well this certainly was a revelation; I had no idea that the majority of those NEC members who align themselves with the hard left faction, don’t even meet in the same room as the NEC. They choose to inhabit a room on one of the lower floors. Even though provision is made for them to join the NEC; they just choose not to. They claim to be showing solidarity with another member who has medical issues. It seems very odd that 15-20 of your NEC members don’t even engage at probably one of UNISON’s most important meetings. They are mic’d up to the chamber so they can take part and I am told that the start of the meeting usually involves a cacophony of noise and claims that the tech isn’t working, for the purpose of causing disruption.

It seems absurd that people who have been elected to represent members behave in this way; self segregating so they don’t have to take part fully with the NEC. UNISON members would do well to remember this in the forthcoming NEC elections. One would expect that a commitment to fully engage with the NEC would be mandatory if not an obligation.

There was a presentation on recruitment for the forthcoming Grovember initiative. The faction asked about servicing members who work for private contractors, suggesting that unison probably shouldn’t recruit them unless they are serviced by the centre. The response from Dave Pentis was that it would have been sorted if the review motion had been passed at National Delegate Conference. Hmmmm, wonder who was responsible for bringing that down?

A discussion followed on direct debit subscriptions, with a faction member claiming that a number of members don’t have bank accounts. This may be true, but you have to wonder how they get paid. It was clear that they were angling for direct cash collection, for reasons we can only speculate on.

Of course the NHS pay deal came up. As you will recall reader, I have reported on this previously and outlined the hard left faction’s plan to undermine it by making claims that UNISON mislead members on the deal. This is categorically untrue! This of course cannot be said of the RCN who recently issued an apology to their members for misleading them. The faction have tried to lump UNISON with the RCN on this matter, but the evidence and ballot result tell a very different story.

Using RCN issue to whip up trouble when our members made a democratic decision on the offer is unacceptable.

It was reported that the NHS pay deal had brought thousands of staff within the living wage threshold, which is a good news story. Not seen the hard left faction celebrating this achievement and I doubt we ever will.

Another previous reported issue was discussed, that of the Dave Prentis article in the New Statesman regarding UNISON’s Labour Link decision to support the IHRA definition on anti semitism. As you will all know, the definition has now been re-adopted by the Labour Party after much furore. The President made it clear that the business of Labour Link was not for discussion at the NEC as not all NEC members are levy payers or members of the Labour Party. The point was made that if people wanted to be part of the debate they should join the party.

Dave Prentis explained that he had written the article in the New Statesman in a personal capacity. He had been referred to as the General Secretary of UNISON because that’s who he is. A faction member said that they had not received a response to the letter they had written to Prentis on the article. It transpires that Prentis had responded on the 23rd August. Strangely enough, an apology from the faction member was not forthcoming. I not that the individual has put the response on the hard left factions facebook page. Of course they had neglected to to supply the full facts or offer an apology.

Dave Prentis pointed out that he had said nothing different than others had said. UNISON has adopted a policy on anti semitism not the IHRA. The IHRA definition was Labour policy in 2016 and it does not impinge on the work of the union with regards to Palestine. UNISON continues to work with trade unions in Palestine. UNISON’s policy is and has always bee a two state solution. He said go back to conference if you want to change it. He is proud of the fact that UNISON came out against anti semitism, it is blight of the party. We need a labour government and that is what we should be focusing on. The NEC had agreed at a previous meeting that anti semitism is racism and therefore they would denounce it. This was a unanimous decision.

The faction want to discuss the general Secretary election of 2016, particularly on the Certification Officer report. The president gave his commitment that the report would come to NEC, but all processes have not been completed and the matter can”t discussed until process is done. This is a matter that has troubled no one outside of the unison action camp. It is quite clear that they want the opportunity to bully and make accusations against staff and lay leaders. This for all intents and purposes is a dead issue. The world has moved on considerably and it certainly is not an issue that is of any importance to UNISON members, not that it ever was.

If you are having trouble sleeping, I suggest you look it up, it’s freely available online. Quite interesting that those who are named from the faction in the document don’t exactly come out smelling of roses. These observations will no doubt be ignored.

I have never understood why they are so keen to beat up our union and make claims that it is corrupt in some way; that certainly is not the case. Spending valuable time on this kind of incessant navel gazing is pointless and prevents the union from getting on with work that actually makes a difference. I suppose if you are self obsessed, you may not want to move the spotlight.

My contact told me that a lot of these arguments are brought up over and over again, and valuable time is wasted by this perpetual hate of our union. The hard left faction claim that UNISON is not a fighting union; apparently a number of branches taking industrial action were discussed at the meeting. Interesting to note that most of them were branches that don’t associate with the faction.

Sounds like NEC meeting are somewhat convoluted due to the constant time wasting of the hard left faction. Is this really what we want from our leadership? Remember! Unison action broad left is brought to you by the same people who created militant (now the Socialist party). We all know how that ended.

Thanks for reading.

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