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Dismiss Unison right for gross misconduct if they ignore left NEC, says UK’s top labour lawyer

More explosive conclusions as UK’s leading labour law expert says right-wing Unison staff can be fired without notice if they disobey instructions from union’s left-majority executive

As Skwawkbox has reported in recent months, the right-wing staff of the giant Unison union have been accused by the newly dominant left on the union’s national executive (NEC) of constant manoeuvres to prevent the left exercising its democratic mandate on Unison’s sovereign body.

As one of the largest Labour-affiliated unions, the conduct and votes of Unison play a key role in the entire direction of the party and the movement – and the right know that a left-run Unison spells disaster for Keir Starmer, for his war on Labour members and for his rush to neutralise any threat to the Establishment and its interests.

As a result of the staff’s tactics, Unison ignored its own official policies at Labour’s annual conference to support Keir Starmer’s changes to the party’s leadership and disciplinary rules and, most recently, saw staff tell the NEC that they have the right to ignore NEC resolutions – passed by it to enforce union rules and ensure staff carry out its instructions – because, according to the advice of a ‘junior counsel’, the resolutions broke the union’s rules and were therefore unlawful.

But yesterday, the conclusions of Lord John Hendy, the UK’s leading labour law expert, emerged and his findings were clear: the resolutions are entirely lawful, the junior counsel’s advice is almost entirely nonsense – and the NEC and only the NEC is entitled under union rules to decide how to apply those rules.

The Unison right continues to ignore the union’s elected body, claiming that the junior counsel’s opinion trumps the findings of the top labour lawyer in the country.

But Hendy was also explicit about something else in his conclusion – if staff continue to disobey the NEC, they can be summarily sacked for gross misconduct:

Unison’s NEC must not hesitate to exercise its rights if right-wing staff continue to obstruct the democratic will of the union’s million-plus members and the union’s rules making clear that the NEC is sovereign and staff are there to carry out what it says.

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20 comments

  1. Dismiss them anyway. They’ve acted way beyond their remit, and that’s gross misconduct as I understand it.

    1. Since Lord Hendy’s opinion was published it appears that Unison has sought updated advice from Stuart Brittenden + the advice of Michael Ford QC.

      Since receiving the email from the Vice Presidents containing Hendy’s advice this morning, the NEC has received an email from the General Secretary, which contains updated legal advice from Stuart Brittenden on Hendy’s advice. Brittenden’s advice is ‘privileged’ so again I cannot share this with you, but the upshot is that it reaffirms his original advice and conflicts with Hendy’s advice. The email also contains another document of an ‘independent’ legal view from a leading QC Michael Ford, which also does not accept that Hendy’s advice is ‘definitive’ as the Vice Presidents say it is and that is put out by the ‘Time for Real Change’.
      https://www.johnslabourblog.org/2021/10/latest-on-extremists-attempts-to.html

      1. Steve H, as always in any area of Law it is possible to give advice from different angles: it is how lawyers and barristers make money: by providing different legal opinions and taking matters before the Courts to pass judgement on the matter at hand.
        Hence, two barristers have offered a different opinion to Lord Hendy’s, so what? Lord Hendy’s opinion provides Unison’s NEC with the necessary argument to fire the staff without notice and should do so.
        The staff of course would have the right to take their sacking before an Employment Tribunal. No sure their Trade Unions (it cannot be Unison) would take on the matter on their behalf to an Employment Tribunal. It is a real possibility that the Trade Union that represent them will cut them lose.
        I notice with interest that the advice from Michael Ford QC notices that Hendy’s advice isn’t “definitive”. In legal parlance it means that Hendy’s advice could be challenge before an Employment Tribunal, but not much of a chance at winning the legal argument, against the very clear Hendy’s advice.

      2. Maria – I was simply pointing out that the above was not wholly accurate, As for who is right, I have no idea, It looks like that may end up being decided in the courts. Thanks for the ‘Law for Dummies’ lesson, it was much appreciated.

      3. You really hate anyone telling you anything, don’t you. Maria wasn’t lecturing you and was being polite. You have issues Steven.

    2. SteveH
      Who are the ultra left
      Your man sounds like another Red Tory and if Lord Hendy is not definitive, all that means is its is probably 99.9% accurate
      The sky is black with the wings of chickens coming home to roost
      Is that definitive enough for you

      1. Doug – This is how he describes himself but I was more interested in the message than the messenger

        UNISON National Convenor & Regional Council Officer, Newham Councillor for West Ham Ward, Chair of Labour Group, Vice Chair of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, Pension trustee, Housing & Safety Practitioner. Centre left and proud member of Labour movement family.

  2. Is this a repeat of the 5th columnist Labour staff who were paid £600,000 by Starmer for sabotaging the 2017 general election campaign?

  3. They must pick out the ringleaders and dismiss them immediately to the letter of the law and offer HR mental health services if they are distressed.Actions speak louder than words .Lets see if they are up to the job which is increasingly becoming protection of the very union itself .as well as the members.ITs very worrying that the tail wags the dog and the NEC seem unaware of their responsibility in being the ruling body of Unison.Has we found out in the Labour party being a left wing Socialist is not always enough.

  4. offer HR mental health services if they are distressed

    Or at least point them to a premium rate phone line that in fact is a garage business, selling replacement white goods parts, rather than offering any support.

    A similar thing’s been done by the Govt for Afghan refuge seekers, and they seem to have got away with it.

  5. Maybe taking their inspiration from Southside’s cruelty & malevolence when conducting their political schemes for power and undemocratic noxious vileness?

  6. The NEC best take the advice of John Hendy. Such is the state and dictatorial methods used by the right, who we know some Unison employees have form in plotting against the left. If they don’t I fear the right of Unison will make up some excuse and dismiss the left NEC members.

  7. Why is this a surprise, what made anyone think staff could ignore the NEC
    Now let’s see what the left are made of and give the f7ckers a taste of their own medicine
    They will have to start the process again and warn staff that failure to carry out orders will be considered Gross Misconduct and lead to instant dismissal

  8. Would Temporary Embarrassments bag carrier have been confirmed without Unison gerrymandering
    On a previous issue, how did the gruesome twosome get away with approving payout to Panorama Drama Queens without democratic oversight

  9. The elected Left NEC are sovereign.
    The unelected officers should go for undermining union democracy, the union belongs to members not the union bureaucracy, who seem to forget they are there to serve members and not to take the power for themselves?
    Solidarity to the Left NEC and Paul Holmes.

  10. The elected Left NEC is sovereign.
    The unelected officers in question should go, the union belongs to the members and not the union bureaucracy who seem to forget that they are there to serve the members and not to take the power for themselves?
    Solidarity to the Left NEC and Paul Holmes.

  11. The issue is surely which officer does the sacking. Obviously a committee does not do it. I suppose it comes down to the president to do or not to do. Back to square one.

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