Breaking Exclusive

Exclusive: Unison tells branches they can’t vote on motion to support union’s own president

Even though motion makes no mention of Unison, union tells branches motion is out of order

Unison members are being told by their union that they are not allowed to vote on a motion of support for the union’s own president.

Paul Holmes has been suspended for well over a year by Kirklees council in what supporters say is a political stitch-up, with no charges disclosed against him despite a 15-month council investigation. A prolonged disciplinary hearing has now begun, without a word of support from the union for its own president against an employer accused of targeting him for his union activism.

Holmes’s supporters have claimed that Unison’s right-wing management is at the least happy to see him out of action and even that it has obstructed his defence out of a desire to see him exit the union. Holmes would have won the union’s last general secretary election, had the establishment left not insisted on fielding a weaker candidate against him and dividing the left vote.

Branches attempting to debate the motion have been told by the union’s management – including by former right-wing Labour fixer John Stolliday, who was accused by a leaked Labour report of wanting to cancel Labour’s leadership election when it was clear Jeremy Corbyn would win and who was still appointed by Unison to run its internal elections, despite the fury of national executive members – that they are not allowed to do so:

‘Against rule’

Some branches have reported being told that the motion would be against Unison’s rules, but that no rule has been quoted. By contrast – and as shown below – the union’s official policy obliges it to defend Holmes and any other targeted rep.

A target on the backs of every Unison rep

Unison activists have responded that it is unthinkable for a union not to support its own president against an employer – and that this sends a chilling message to every one of the union’s reps around the country – and giving ‘the green light’ to employers to come after them ‘without fear’.

One rep told Skwawkbox:

If UNISON continue to frustrate the will of its members to pass a simple motion in support of a fellow trade union rep who is being victimised for being a hard working union rep then they will be placing a target on the backs of every UNISON rep and giving all employers the green light to target UNISON reps with impunity and without fear of any fightback.

The banned motion reads:

This Branch notes:

• The suspension by Labour-led Kirklees Council of UNISON Branch Secretary Paul Holmes in December 2019
• That Kirklees Council has had almost two years to carry out an investigation
• That Paul has been a Nalgo and then UNISON steward for 46 years, and Branch Secretary for 32 years, and is currently the President of UNISON
• That Kirklees UNISON is one of the largest branches in the country and had 3 live strike ballots and one pending when Paul was suspended
• That the Council’s Deputy Leader said at the time, “There is a Father Christmas”.

This Branch believes:

• That an injury to one is an injury to all – employers must not be allowed to get away with attacking our union organisation and our union activists, reps, branch and national officers
• The Deputy Leader’s statement shows that UNISON and Paul have been a thorn in their side, and critical to resisting cuts and closures of public services – delaying any investigation for so long indicates the aim was more to undermine union organisation in the Council.

This Branch resolves:

• To campaign for Kirklees Council to end the suspension of Paul
• To write to both the Chief Executive and the Council Leader calling on them to lift Paul’s suspension
• To affiliate to the Defend Paul Holmes Campaign and publicise and mobilise for campaign events and activities
• To call on UNISON to offer its full support to a campaign to stop one of its activists being victimised
• To send a message of support to Paul Holmes.

Skwawkbox contacted Unison earlier this week for comment, asking:

Please clarify:

1. What rule would be broken by this motion being tabled or passed?

2. Contrary to it being against rule, the motion is in fact in line with Unison conference policy, namely the 2014 policy decision below on supporting union reps cited below:
UNISON Conference Policy Defending Trade Union Activists
Conference, 2014 National Delegate Conference, Date 21 February 2014 Decision Carried as Amended.
Conference notes with concern the increasing number of trade union activists who are being victimised under this Tory-led government. We believe there will be an increasing number of victimised trade union reps, because we are at the forefront of defending the public sector from the cuts we all face.
We must learn the lessons of campaigns to defend trade union activists – both successful and unsuccessful. One successful example is the campaign to ‘Defend Jawad, Max and Steve’. Max Watson was Chair of London Met University UNISON Branch on 7th Feb 2013 when he was suspended alongside Jawad Botmeh (also a UNISON member) and Steve Jefferys (a UCU member). Conference notes the campaign for ‘Freedom and Justice for Jawad and Samar’ against the miscarriage of justice they faced when imprisoned in 1996 on a charge of conspiracy to cause explosions, which received national UNISON support. We believe this support was fundamental to gaining support for the subsequently successful campaign to reinstate Jawad, Max and Steve in 2013.
After five weeks of campaigning, including; rallies outside investigation hearings attracting over 200 people; 2,500+ names on a petition; hundreds of emails and letters sent to the university management; letters of support from across the labour movement and around the world; all support publicised via a campaign website; organised through a Facebook group, email list and twitter account; 200+ people at a public meeting with speakers from across the labour movement; an immediate threat of (lawful) industrial action (within UNISON’s rules); and vitally, all with the full and support of UNISON’s National Executive Council and Presidential Team, Max Watson was reinstated and returned to work on 13th March 2013.
As a direct result of this vigorous campaigning with the full support of our union the direct threat of dismissal, which could have decapitated the branch, was reduced to a six months final written warning. UNISON’s solicitors, Thompsons, then challenged this sanction with a claim for trade union victimisation to an employment tribunal.
Conference – made up of delegates of active trade unionists who put our necks on the line for our members day in day out – resolves to do all in our power to protect our own; to stand up for each other when called on, and to protect the ‘backbone’ of our union.

Why is Unison ignoring its policy obligation?

3. If the union is banning branches from supporting its president, Unison’s network of reps are going to feel – and I quote one of them – ‘like they’ve painted a target on our back for the bosses’. Why should reps trust the union to protect them if it won’t come out for its president and is in fact blocking attempts to support him?

4. Why does Mr Holmes remain suspended by Unison, months after being democratically elected as its president?

No response had been received by the time of writing, several days later.

The council’s secret case against Paul Holmes, the democratically-elected, left-wing president of the UK’s largest union, continues. The right-dominated union’s management not only remains silent but, judging by the emails received by branches, has banned members even from voting on a statement of support.

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  1. Stolliday of course, heavily features in the labour leaked documents, constantly wanting to stop ‘the trots’.

    Oldknow is part of Unison management too.

    These people are not left, and they are not on the side of workers. They are trojan horses in places they can do most damage.

      1. SIR nowhere man with a nasty plan, marches on down🤣 “ADVISED” by Blair WMD & Mandelson who wakes up everyday LONGING 2 b back in the limelight… says it’s up to Keith to bring him back🤣 He also says Keith should NOT restore the Whip to Jeremy. Keith does as he’s told🤣

        MORE fruits of Mandelson’s Blair’s SIR starmer horror show Tory Tribute Act: MINUS thirty eight point seven percent fall to 21.7% vote share = THIRD place behind Johnson’s Tory’s.
        Tories by comparison fell 9.3%🤣

        Mandelson’s spinning on that! The most DEADLY regime on UK soil since 1940s, yet Spinmeister “clever” “strategist” & Blair WMD’s advice to SIR forensic Keith causes SIR Keith starmer to lose 39.7% vote share to be DUMPED in 3rd place. “Winners”?🤣🤣🤣

        AND, EXACTLY as i’ve said + MUST let it sink in; WINNING is EASY without out ANY stuff “maniacs” drip on about!!! GRAINGE an INDEPENDENT was VICTORIOUS over Torys & Starmer’s tribute act!!! Grainge like all others recently had ZERO need of tons of money, members, mellow media nor any other externalities.

        ZERO to THIRTY four point eight percent over Mandelson Blair CONTROLLED sir Starmer … repeat!!! DOWN 38.7%🤣

        Another Independent: PLATT from 0.0, gained 11.6% thus defeating deceitful illLiberal Democrats; FAMED 4 their historically turbo charged by & local election campaigns, due 2 their easy contradictory promises 2 any no. of doorstep gullible!!!

        Independents +ve performances above, r yet MORE evidence – WINNING is easy. And there’s ZERO need for media support, nor anything else others go on about.
        BTW above is Middlesborough by-election.🤣🤣🤣

  2. Shameful behaviour from Unison who must be taking their cue from Evans.
    If it’s against the unions rules how can Stolliday get away with issuing bans surely the members will fight this
    Talking of Stolliday how is he still employed by Unison after the accusations of him being involved in the leaked report.?

    1. Unions’ old guard r KEY long running problems. Status quo could NEVER survive without them.
      They’ve gone through charades 4 decades. They prioritise being cosy with bandits rather than making FIRM demands 4 those they r SUPPOSED 2represent

      A SHARON GRAHAM +++ LEADING in EVERY union, is what the world needs

      Also DYNAMIC Independents in EVERY single seat of EVERY SINGLE parasite in and out of our party. We can then form a meaningful GOVERNMENT

  3. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    There can be little doubt in the minds of anyone that giving this bunch of autocratic charlatans the keys to Government at any level will result in a purge of the electorate on the basis of any view expressed which is not in complete enthusiastic agreement with the elite narrative being unfit to have the vote.

  4. Unless UNISON is unlike any other trade union, any member is entitled to the support of the union if the employer takes action against the member. UNISON, it would appear, are failing to adhere to the contract they entered into on receipt of Mr Holmes’ membership fee.

    1. Unison is being run like Starmer’s Labour Party. Wonder why? Because if Unison went the way of Unite, Starmer’s Blairite Tribute Act Party would be dead in the water.

    2. The note from Stolliday says the motion is ‘inappropriate’ nit out of order. As you say, no rule is cited

  5. So sad to see the unison I remember in the ninteys being exploited and degraded by the same lot that infiltrated and destroyed the Labour party….Still not a basket case unison and all hope is not lost because there are many union activists that havnt sold out.

  6. This has got to be one of the most twisted, one of the weirdest cases, in Trades Union history.

    What it amounts to is, nothing more than, intimidation of the Union’s own Members, by the Union’s top officers.

    No logic to it, at all.

  7. We all need to express our solidarity with Paul and our disgust at his treatment by unison. I feel ashamed and angry at the same time. If they can do this to him, they can do that to other reps.
    Pastor Niemoeller’s words come to mind.
    First they came for the Communists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Communist
    Then they came for the Socialists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Socialist
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a trade unionist
    Then they came for the Jews
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a Jew
    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me

  8. Have come to the conclusion that the Right in and out of Labour and in unions are barbarians.

  9. The Right Wing Labour Facist’s are BULLIES and like all BULLIES they do What they do because the Majority let them, Fear is a Terrible thing but Cowardice is worse stand up to these Bas***ds the shame The Labour Party and all it stands for, GERRINTYTHUM they are using psychological warfare on all who oppose them F*ck the broad house it does not exist it is Right Wing Bullshit, The only way to a Socialist UK is STAND AND BE COUNTED like WE DID in the 60s 70s 80s the only way to Stop these twisted Corrupt self serving Bas***ds is Fight the way they Fight DIRTY pussy footing about won’t cut it FIGHT FIGHT AND KEEP FIGHTING DIRTIER THAN THEM and when You Working Class Heroes Win this stinking Right Wing instigated WAR Get rid of every Right Wing Bully Boy and Women ALL OF THEM We can Handle the Right Wing Scum Press Youse know who I mean but we cannot Fight 5th Columnists at the same Time only then can We even contemplate having a Proper Labour Government Fight Fight Fight Fight GET THE RIGHT WING OUT NOW!

    1. peej, in the first place the left CANNOT fight dirtier than the right-wing fascists, because to fight dirty you HAVE to be devious and duplicitous and completely devoid of a conscience and totally corrupt, and socialists, by their very nature, don’t have such qualities. And you can’t be what you’re NOT. And in the second place, the right-wing fascists have the WHOLE of the MSM on their side AND totally hostile to the left.

      But, pray, do tell, how can ‘we’ handle the right-wing press OR the rest of the MSM who are hostile to the left (if the 5th Columnists were gone)?

      And how do ‘we’….’GET THE RIGHT WING OUT NOW’? Could you elaborate?

      And who is this ‘majority’ you speak of who – or so you assert – let the bullies do what they do?

      And could you elaborate about what happened in the 60s and 70s and 80s – ie who was standing up to WHO and being counted?


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