Socialist Worker

No to witchhunt of Kirklees Unison reps

Issue No. 2687

Nick Ruff (far right) on the picket line with Kirklees council workers in 2012

Nick Ruff (far right) on the picket line with Kirklees council workers in 2012 (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Four Unison union branch officers in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, remain suspended by their own union without knowing the charges against them.

Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison local government branch secretary for 30 years, is suspended by both council bosses and the union.

The council has appointed an outside consultant to conduct an investigation, but Paul has yet to be called to answer allegations of bullying that he has yet to see.

Unison suspended assistant branch secretary for finance Cath Kinder, branch chair Nick Ruff and the branch treasurer on 1 December 2019.

The letters were dated 29 November 2019.

All four have been suspended under “rule I” of Unison’s rules—and to date have not been informed of what they are alleged to have done.

Unison wrote to them on 9 January to inform them about who would be carrying out the rule I investigation.

But details of the allegations still have not been communicated.

It is assumed that, given the positions of the officers suspended and that the branch has been placed under regional supervision, the investigation will be into financial charges.

Any wrongdoing would be unlikely as the union has regularly audited the branch and it even paid for an external audit of the branch’s finances over two days in January last year.

The union has communicated to the branch that there were no irregularities found. Furthermore, as a result of the union’s branch uplift process, Kirklees Unison was awarded an additional £48,000 by its region in October last year.

It is necessary to deal with a complaint of bullying and it should be treated with the utmost seriousness.

But this comes from a council that has not suspended any manager despite allegations of racist bullying on the bins department.

The action taken against Paul is clearly related to his trade union activities as head of a branch that fights cuts.

The council’s deputy leader recently commented, “There is a Father Christmas,” when hearing of Paul’s suspension.

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