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Exclusive: Unison right’s legal move to stop left ‘wrong in almost every respect’ says top UK labour lawyer

Lord John Hendy eviscerates Unison right’s claim that left-run NEC’s rulings and resolutions are unlawful

John Hendy, left-wing Unison president Paul Homes and right-wing general secretary Christine McAnea

As Skwawkbox has reported, the right-wing management of the giant Unison union have been ‘waging war’ on the democratically-elected left majority on the unison’s sovereign national executive (NEC) – and other bodies – in an attempt to prevent the NEC exercising its member-given mandate, according to NEC members.

The right has blocked the left’s entitlement to set the union’s policy at Labour’s recent annual conference – and ignored the union’s already-set official policies to vote in David Evans as Labour general secretary and to rig Labour’s leadership and disciplinary rules in favour of the right.

And when the Unison NEC voted for the union’s ‘machine’ to follow the union’s own rules, the management declared the resolutions unlawful, claiming they had legal advice to prevent the resolutions being enforced – and that because they were unlawful, the NEC could not ask staff to comply.

The ‘presidential team’ of elected left-wing representatives responded by taking the matter to Lord John Hendy, the UK’s foremost expert on Labour law. And Hendy has eviscerated the right’s claims as:

in almost every respect, wrong.

According to the left NEC members targeted by the right’s legal manoeuvres, the right has used its claims to prevent the left carrying out its mandate and to free up right-wing general secretary Christine McAnea and her cronies – some of them former right-wing Labour staff singled out in the notorious leaked Labour report of HQ staffers’ conduct – to ignore the union’s processes and members democracy and act as they see fit, including attacks on the elected union president Paul Holmes.

And according to Hendy, they and their lawyers are talking nonsense. In a 28-page response to the president’s team, he concludes:

Not just errors and omissions, but ‘patent’ – obvious, unmissable – errors and omissions. The attempted legal manoeuvres have been shot down in flames and if the Unison right doesn’t get out of the way of the union’s NEC, they are the ones breaking Unison’s rules and acting unlawfully, because as Hendy notes:

it is for the NEC (and no-one else) to interpret the Rules in cases of ‘doubt, conflict or dispute’.

Skwawkbox view:

Time for Unison’s left NEC to flex its muscles and put the right-wing staff in their place.

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13 comments

  1. Emily Oldknow and Mark Ferguson are two of the names that spring to mind. Neither will sleep well, tonight.

    A good day’s work, John Hendy QC. Thank you!

    1. Here is an alternative perspective, time and a lot of members money will no doubt prove one of them to be right.
      Prior to the meeting all NEC members were sent written legal advice, sought through UNISON’s usual processes, which stated that four of the six resolutions were a breach of our Rules and unlawful. We were also given this advice verbally throughout the meeting.
      The Vice Presidents’ resolutions sought to amend the rules of our union, outside of our usual rule book democratic process of our National Delegate Conference.
      The Vice Presidents’ unlawful rule breaches aim to:……..
      (follow the link).
      https://www.johnslabourblog.org/2021/10/statement-from-unison-nec-members.html

    1. George Peel
      He probably is unfortunately. Unison supported him and any dispute about how the delegates voted is an internal matter for Unison. They can discipline the wrongdoers but they cannot overturn the result of the ballot. As far as I know (not 100% sure)that is in the party rules

  2. Disciplinary process for those who chose to mislead/deceive the legitimately elected members.Review if staffers position is required.

  3. The right wing staff should be sacked, give them a months pay, and bar them from the unions premises.

    1. That’s right. “Time for Unison’s left NEC to flex its muscles and put the right-wing staff in their place.” That place is the Jobcentre.

  4. Couldn’t agree more with your final comment about the NEC flexing its muscles Skwawkbox . I am sure they have the will to do so but as I posted earlier they lack experience which the fulltime officials have clearly exploited. Therefore the NEC needs to get to grips with the rule book and scrutinise agendas in advance so that they are well prepared for meetings and this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

  5. Apparently, mcanea was a communist in her younger days.

    I’m certain I’ve heard similar somewhere else…🤔

    1. Looking at her Toffee and her name I still doubt she will be able to park her caravan on the Pontins car park in Southport….Beware the heavy arms of the fascists state.

  6. Mind you the Secretary of the Labour NEC (or whatever his job title is?)
    appears be able to break rules with impunity – and nowt is done

  7. I thought some of you may be interested to read what Ms Graham had to say in her speech to Unite’s policy conference.

    https://labourlist.org/2021/10/unite-not-standing-down-from-the-political-arena-sharon-graham-says/
    “In her first speech to Unite policy conference since being elected general secretary, Graham said she wanted to build a politics “not top down, but from the shop floor and the fabric of local communities up, in order to drive through the political process in an entirely different way”.

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