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Certification officer rules that Unison breached election procedures

Issue No. 2191

Supporters of Unison’s present leadership used union resources to boost the chances of their candidates in national executive elections.

Caroline Bedale, joint branch secretary of Unison’s Manchester community and mental health branch, brought the case that exposed the scandal.

The official trade union Certification Officer has now delivered a judgement.

He declared, “Unison breached its Election Procedures for the election of members to its National Executive Council 2009/2011” because union resources were used to support certain candidates.

A letter on union-headed paper was sent out in the name of Tony Caffery, branch secretary of Unison’s Manchester branch, to about 40 people.

It invited them to a “social event at our new office”.

Roy McHale, assistant branch secretary of Cheshire Unison branch, heard about the event and became convinced that left-led branches had not been invited. He asked branch publicity officer Sharon Stanley to go.

Caffery claimed the event was largely a social occasion. Stanley said it was not, and discussions focused on strategies for Unison’s national conference and nominations for executive candidates.

Last week the Certification Officer said he believed Stanley on the matter.

The judgement raises several serious issues:

  • What disciplinary measures will be taken against those who used union resources to organise an election meeting? Left wingers would have been expelled for this.
  • Senior Unison officials allegedly attended this meeting. Were they aware of what was going on?
  • What does this say about Unison’s internal procedures, as the complaint about the meeting was dismissed by Unison twice?
  • What effect did this meeting and any others that took place have on the fate of the 17 candidates it lobbied for?

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Article information

Tue 2 Mar 2010, 18:07 GMT
Issue No. 2191
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