Do you want to find out how your union is being run? Well, be prepared to stump up over £500. That is the dangerous conclusion of a court case brought by the Unison union against leading activist Yunus Bakhsh.
Yunus had asked Unison to provide him with copies of minutes of important meetings that decided on questions of political funding.
When Unison sent him a bill of hundreds of pounds for “administrative costs”, Yunus decided to contest it.
The judge in the case ruled that Unison are within their rights to demand 14 hours of staff time charged at £31.50 an hour to provide members with information.
That means viewing the minutes cost Yunus a staggering £441.
Yunus, who is on incapacity benefit after being victimised and sacked from his job as a nurse, is to be made to pay part of the union’s costs – bringing the total, including interest, to £565!
When Yunus asked the judge to consider his financial position, Unison’s barrister suggested that the court might be able to seize Yunus’s equity – meaning assets, like his flat – or his savings.
The judge did not think this reasonable, and ordered Yunus to repay the union at the rate of £10 a month.
For those in the union movement who want it to be genuinely democratic and open, the whole process is extremely disturbing.
Surely, one result of this case is that fewer people will ask difficult questions.