Unison leaders are also attempting to ensure that another sitting member of the health service group executive is blocked from re-election.
Yunus Bakhsh has been told that he cannot stand because he is currently “suspended from office”. Yunus’s suspension is being vigorously contested, and he has not been found guilty of any charges.
The union is not supposed to impose any disciplinary penalties against a member until all the relevant procedures have been exhausted.
The attempt to deny both Yunus and Karen their democratic rights is a reflection of the effective way both have represented the left in the union for many years.
Unison’s leaders are acutely aware of the growing anger with the government over pay, privatisation and pensions.
They worry that this anger could lead to a revolt that threatens both the Labour government and their own leadership of the union.
So they have launched a crackdown on the left, hoping to achieve by bureaucratic means what they cannot do through political argument.
The witch-hunt is a sign of the union leadership’s weakness, not its strength.
Union activists must not be deterred from raising both political and economic issues at work – while arguing for fighting policies and a fighting leadership for their union.