By Nick Clark
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2790

Unison union bureaucracy tries to block union democracy

Internal union issues must be linked to action in the workplaces
Issue 2790
Health workers with large green Unison banner for Homerton Hospital

Unison members need a leadership that will push for more resistance (Picture: Dave Gilchrist)

Senior bureaucrats at the top of the Unison union have launched a fresh attack on the union’s elected governing body by effectively cancelling its meetings.

The union’s general secretary Christine McAnea told the union’s staff not to attend committee meetings by elected members of the national executive council (NEC).

It is the latest move to undermine the elected NEC, after bureaucrats refused to carry out its decisions in October last year.

At the heart of the row is a fight over whether Unison becomes a union that leads a greater fightbacks.

Left wing activists took control of Unison’s NEC in elections last year. Most were part of the Time for Real Change campaign. Though it organises 1.3 million public sector workers, Unison has failed to mount enough resistance to attacks on jobs, pay, pensions and conditions for more than a decade.

The result is that two landmark strike ballots over pay among health workers, and council workers in England and Wales failed to get near the 50 percent turnout thresholds demanded by anti-union laws.

Time for Real Change wants to remove blocks on organising and on members taking action. 

All Unison activists need to demand NEC meetings are reinstated—with a public, national response that links questions of democracy and change in the union to resistance to attacks on pay and working conditions.

Stand with  Paul Holmes 

Victimised trade unionist Paul Holmes was set to hear the results of a two-year disciplinary action against him on Wednesday of this week.

Paul’s bosses at Kirklees council suspended him in November 2019. As branch secretary of Kirklees Unison, Paul has led strikes and campaigns against council cuts.

By the time Paul hears the outcome of the hearing he will have been suspended for two years and three months. In that time he has been elected Unison’s national president.

Bosses had still not told Paul the venue for the outcome meeting as Socialist Worker went to press. His supporters were calling on activists to join a lobby 8am in Huddersfield.

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