Analysis Breaking comment

Holmes to represent Unison at TUC HQ next week after suspension finally collapses

Right-wing rearguard action to delay implementation of suspension-lifting ends more than five weeks after it happened

Unison president Paul Holmes

Unison’s elected president, left-winger Paul Holmes, will attend TUC headquarters next week as the representative of his union, after right-wing delays in acknowledging and implementing his reinstatement from suspension finally appear to have collapsed.

As Skwawkbox reported earlier this week, Holmes was reinstated in early November by the union’s disciplinary body after a 24-month suspension without cause being given that Holmes’s supporters say was politically driven as the union right fights to negate the left’s democratically-achieved majority – but it took the union admin more than a month to get round to admitting that his suspension had ended.

But even then, the union machine continued to try to block Holmes from resuming his duties, according to Unison insiders – but now he is back in play and will go to the TUC next week in his role as president.

Holmes remains suspended by Kirklees council, which has never given any grounds for its action and has prolonged the disciplinary process. Unison activists condemned the union’s management for banning branches from any show of support for their elected president – sending a chilling message to Unison reps that they could not rely on the union’s support if they were targeted by unscrupulous employers because of their union activism – and claimed that the council’s move was coordinated with the union right to try to oust Holmes, who would have won last year’s general secretary election had parts of the left establishment not insisted on dividing the left vote.

The hearings, attended by large crowds demonstrating in support of their president, have finally come to an end and its decision is expected before Christmas. Whether the lifting of the union suspension is because right-wingers know the council has had to acknowledge its actions were unfounded, or as an attempt to distance themselves from a stitch-up is not yet clear, but inside sources have suggested that the disciplinary committee has been forced to vindicate Holmes.

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  1. A 24 month suspension without reason being given is unacceptable. What can be done to hold the relevant people to account? I have every faith that Paul Holmes will investigate and let us know.

    I hope his presence next Tuesday as the Unison rep at the TUC has the effect that the Labour Right fear.


      The reasons behind Paul Holmes suspension have been leaked.

      “Kirklees senior union rep faces allegations of bullying
      A confidential investigation that has seen a senior union man suspended for two years involves allegations of bullying and intimidation, the Local Democracy Reporting Service can reveal.
      Paul Holmes, secretary of the Kirklees branch of public service union Unison, was suspended on full pay by Kirklees Council in December 2019 pending an investigation into “serious and confidential issues”.
      The reason has not been made public until now.

      Following the receipt of a leaked dossier into the case, the LDRS can report that Mr Holmes has faced complaints of:
      Bullying, threatening and intimidating behaviour towards colleagues.
      That he made repeated and unreasonable work demands on colleagues, behaving in a controlling and coercive manner.
      That he made sarcastic and demeaning comments towards colleagues, including constant and unjustifiable criticism.

      The union suspended Mr Holmes along with Kirklees branch chairman Nick Ruff and assistant branch secretary Cath Kinder.
      Mr Holmes, a council employee, was also suspended by the authority.

      1. Steve H
        I would point out that the “reasons” why Paul was suspended have not been given – it is the ALLEG ATIONS against him which have been leaked.
        Clearly we do not have the facts of the case but in my experience allegations of bullying and intimidation are usually easy to substantiate particularly if as appears here the allegations are that the behaviour was widespread.
        As Paul has been suspended for 2 years I can only conclude that the council has no evidence against him ( or the other reps who have also been suspended) and rather than risk an unfair dismissal claims the Council is sitting on the case. This is contrary to ACAS guidelines and is probably causing Paul and the others a lot of stress and distress and amounts to bullying on the part of the Council.
        The Council has to put up or shut up and they haven’t put up in 2 years they need to drop the case now and lift the suspensions . They should be aware that if any of those suspended become ill as a result of their protracted suspensions the Council will find itself facing a personal injury claims in court.
        This needs to be said by Unison to the Council but as they were complicit in the suspension of Paul there is no chance of this and Paul and the others have been hung out to dry.
        Shame on Unison , a pathetic excuse for a Union , a disgrace to the Trade Union movement and shame on bullying Kirklees Council.

      2. Smartboy – …..and yet you are the one passing judgement on the basis of what you rightly say is very little knowledge. I have simply reported what has been published and unlike you I have intentionally reserved passing any judgement until I know more

      3. Steve H
        I am simply stating facts in my response to your comments
        1 Paul and the others had been suspended from Unison and the Council for 2 years
        2 Investigations have been on going by both parties for 2 years
        3 No evidence to substantiate the allegations ( on the balance of probabilities) has been unearthed in 2 years by either Unison or the Council
        4 Unison finally lifted Paul’s suspension in November
        5 He remains suspended by Kirklees contrary to ACAS guidelines
        6 Unison has failed to defend Paul or (apparently) the others.
        Just what more to you need to know Steve before concluding Paul was hung out to dry by Unison, a pathetic excuse for a Union, and that the unjustified protracted suspensions by Kirklees amount to bullying with which Unison actively colluded ?

      4. Smartboy – To be clear, I am not saying whether Paul is guilty or innocent
        I simply don’t know whether he is or not.
        Perhaps some details of the actual accusations might be a good starting point. You should reserve judgement until you know more. Now these details have been revealed the rest will probably emerge before too long.

      5. Steve H
        I know that a vindictive employer aided and abetted by a vindictive union have spent 2 years hunting for evidence against Paul but haven’t been able to find any. They have not been able to show that on the balance of probabilities – a very low threshold for proof required in non criminal proceeding such as this- that he did what he is accused of and that is enough for me.
        I would add that like allegations of antisemitism ( the Labour party’s go to reason for expelling socialists, anti or non Zionists and any dissenting voices) allegations of bullying and harassment destroy the reputations of the accused. It now is clear that instead of accusers having to prove their case, the people accused of despicable behaviour such as antisemitism, bullying harassment etc have to prove that they are not antisemites, not bullies and don’t intimidate .
        It is almost impossible as you know Steve to prove a negative and so the accusation is enough to discredit the accused in some cases permanently. This of course suits Unison – they are happy to have Paul’s name dragged through the mud in the hope that he’ll lose his elected positions next time round.
        Unison was always a fake trade union – a total disgrace over the years- and it is worse now than ever. I hope members see this and where possible join real trade union as soon as they can.

      6. Smartboy – I’m quite happy to remain neutral until we find out more.

      7. We know enough Steve for any reasonably intelligent person to recognise Paul’s treatment for the stitch up that it is. Remaining “neutral” when we see clear evidence of wrongdoing on the part of both Unison and Kirklees is in no way commendable.

      8. Smartboy – So you keep saying, you won’t be surprised to hear that I currently don’t share your opinion.

  2. As ever …. Where were the TUC ?
    There are always plenty of trees to hide behind when it’s time to take a courageous stance.

  3. I am absolutely disgusted at what is clearly the joint efforts of Paul’s union, Unison, and Paul’s employer Kirklees Council to deprive him of his livelihood and thereby keep him out of the position he was elected to by the members.
    A Union President holds the highest elected non salaried position in the Union and if Unison won’t defend him and colludes with management against him members should ask themselves what chance will they have of effective representation from Unison if they are to be disciplined or have a grievance against heir employers.
    What happened to Paul is far worse than the usual Right wing trade union “don’t rock the boat” stance. In this case Unison has been an arm of management and has actively worked against its elected President.
    Most Councils have Trade Union recognition agreements with several unions due to the diverse employment of their workforce – admin and clerical, trades people, manual workers etc. The same applies in hospitals and other large concerns.
    If any Unison member has a choice between membership of Unison and another Trade Union I would suggest they shift to the other Trade Union immediately because given what happened to Paul it is clear that if they have problems at work they needn’t look to Unison for help. Paul should join another union too for his own protection. If he wants to retain his elected office he can always have dual membership ( unless this is specifically banned by Unison rules)
    Unison’s treatment of Paul and collusion with his employer has brought the whole Trade Union movement into disrepute. I don’t know if it is possible for the TUC to take action against Unison but it should be censured for this episode by them at the very least.
    Solidarity with Paul Holmes.

  4. If the left had behaved remotely like these secretive, ever-scheming right-wing cliques do, it would dominate the news agenda. Why can’t those on the political right simply accept democratic outcomes, rather than using all manner of Kafkaesque, arcane procedures in an attempt to frustrate their electorates and overstay their welcome?

    We see this warped mentality within Labour’s NEC; parts of the PLP and in the party leadership’s fine-grained management of potentially unsupportive conference delegates.

    “In serious times we need serious leadership, and it’s clear that this Prime Minister isn’t up to the job.”

    Starmer today. Does he believe he’d win reendorsement from the membership were he to try to renew his mandate? A mandate won through what many hold to be pure deception?

  5. “Why can’t those on the political right simply accept democratic outcomes…”
    Because they are deadly serious- their job is to prevent socialists and anti imperialists from getting close to power. And they are supported in this by the Establishment, from its US HQ to our own security services.

    Could it be made any clearer than it was in the campaign against Corbyn? It was aimed not at Jeremy but at the working class. A socialist movement taking power in the UK in 2022 would make the example of 1917 look trivial in comparison.

    1. Bevin, you hit the nail on the head and are 100% correct. They’re quite happy to let their corrupted Capitalist model destroy the Earth and us too. Meanwhile Murdoch has just bought a huge estate in Montana where, no doubt, he will escape to when the revolution eventually comes.

      1. Yeah, but I suppose revolution(s) in the future might not need symbols like guilotines, hammers and sickles, firing lines, etc., maybe they could be as ‘organic’ as masses of people simply become not willing to sustain things like FPTP, a synchronised MSM with a publicly-funded national broadcaster co-ordinating the various storylines that keep the oligarchs strong and the people weak, disorganised and illinformed?

        However it happens (and it easily could), Murdoch and his class will remain advantaged and will probably become olde-worlde ‘transnational treasures’ the way many other (once dangerous) things did like the British royal family.

    2. bevin – How are you getting on with accepting the clear democratic decision of Labour Party members to elect Keir Starmer as leader.

    1. goldbach – That depends on how you access the web. give me details of whether you use a phone or a PC/laptop, your operating system and which browser you use and I will try and advise you.

      1. It’s a laptop but, as for the rest, I’ll have to get a younger relative to tell me.

      2. goldbach – On the presumption that you are running Windows 10 (it tells you on the screen when you switch it on) try holding down the windows key (the one with 4 little squares to the left of the space bar) and quickly press the full stop key and release both keys.

      3. Sorry, but it doesn’t help. There is no key like the one described. However, I will be seeing one of my I.T. helpers on Thursday or Friday so that should resolve the problem.

  6. More detail of the accusations against Paul Holmes have emerged.
    I recommend that people read the article from beginning to end before commenting.

    “”They [the complainants] are mostly women and one man, (of the evidence given against him there were 13 women and one man). This is not a witch hunt by the council as he claims.
    “The truth has to come out. He has got away with this for 30years!”

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