Socialist Worker

Unison union officials caught out in election scandal

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2483

Unison union members are furious at news that full time officials have been caught breaking union rules to get general secretary Dave Prentis re-elected.

A recording of a meeting of the union’s greater London regional officials from 21 October suggests widespread malpractice.

Unison’s London regional secretary Linda Perks gives detailed instructions to staff to use their paid time to help Prentis’ campaign.

But union rules state that staff should not “carry out any activities intended or likely to affect the election or candidature of any person”.

Perks thanked the officials for securing branch nominations for Prentis. But she insisted there was “still a job to do” in the branches that did not nominate Prentis—to seek out friendly supporters to get leaflets to.

That campaigning is supposed to be “a lay member activity” was greeted with laughter.

Perks warned staff not to get “caught out saying ‘vote for Dave’”. They were told if there are witnesses to them breaking the rules to “make sure they are friendly witnesses”.Investigating

Investigation 

In response Unison informed London branches that assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie was investigating the breach. It said Perks “will not be carrying out her duties” during the investigation.

London region national executive committee (NEC) member Helen Davies said, “There needs to be an independent investigation. All those implicated in this should be immediately suspended.”

London Tower Hamlets branch secretary John McLoughlin said, “We need leadership we can trust.

“We need democracy to defend our members and the services we provide.”

A lobby of the NEC is set to take place on Wednesday of this week. Activists will hand in an open letter calling for immediate action.

PCS union rep Candy Udwin was one of a number of people expelled from Unison in the past as part of a general witch-hunt against socialists.

She said, “These people broke the rules while they have disciplined and expelled union reps in the past for fighting back.

“Their arrogance is incredible—I hope they are held to justice.”

Workers spoke in a personal capacity

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