Delay means elected left-winger misses key union events
Unison has reinstated its elected president, left-winger Paul Holmes, after a suspension of more than a year – and a ban on branches supporting him in his battle against what supporters say is a political disciplinary by Kirklees Council.
No reasons for either the union’s action or the council’s prolonged targeting of Holmes and his Unison branch have ever been made public.
But – in what Unison’s elected left says is part of a war by the union’s right-wing management against their democratic mandate – Holmes’s reinstatement was not communicated to him for more than a month after it took place.
Holmes is considered a serious threat to the right’s regime after coming close to defeating right-wing favourite Christine McAnea in the general secretary election on a ticket of taking only the average wage for the role instead of the usual high salary – a contest he would almost certainly have won had other ‘left’ factions not insisted on standing their preferred candidates despite Holmes’s obvious popularity with the Unison rank and file.
Despite that setback the ‘Real Change’ left slate has since won a series of victories, with Holmes elected as union president while the left won a majority on Unison’s national executive and its ‘LabourLink’ committee that interfaces with the Labour party.
The right-wing administration, meanwhile, has fought an unjustified battle to avoid implementing the decisions of the elected left majority – with the union’s delegates even ignoring official Unison policy to vote with Keir Starmer’s wishes at September’s annual party conference. The left’s LabourLink majority was nullified by the expulsion without process, on an excuse of retrospective grounds, of a Unison youth delegate to the committee.
According to Unison insiders, the delay between Holmes’s reinstatement and his being informed of it meant that he missed several key union events.
One told Skwawkbox:
There have been rumours for some time that Kirklees Council’s targeting of Paul has collapsed. Although the result of that process hasn’t been officially confirmed, it looks like the union management knows something about it and is backtracking now. Either that or they’re hoping that if they reinstate Paul and then Kirklees sacks him, they can get rid of him while maintaining an appearance some distance from the stitch-up.
But they wouldn’t even let branches support him, which would normally be unthinkable when any rep, let alone the union’s president, was being persecuted by an employer. It sent a terrible message and it just stank.
Unison’s press office has ignored every previous attempt to obtain comment, so was not contacted for this article.
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