Analysis Exclusive News

Exclusive – ‘Labour’ council executive: ‘Unison are trots. We need to break them. Are you with me?’ ‘Yes’!

Kirklees council senior officials’ declaration of war on local union members and Unison president

Unison president Paul Holmes

Senior officials at Kirklees council – a ‘Labour’-run authority – declared war on the council’s Unison branch and its leaders, according to documents obtained by Skwawkbox.

According to a report from a former senior manager at the council, one of the council’s top executives called a meeting of all senior managers to discuss compulsory redundancies. At this meeting, the executive said they were:

committed to breaking UNISON. The Kirklees Unison branch are led by a bunch of trots – we need to break the branch. We need to stand up to them. Are you with me?

This executive then allegedly repeated the call ‘Are you with me?’ at least twice and was met with applause and shouts of ‘Yes’ from many of the management.

In addition, the then-deputy leader of the council allegedly greeted the news of the initial suspension of the branch’s top ‘rep’ Paul Holmes – now Unison’s elected president – with the exclamation ‘So there is a Father Christmas’.

Holmes was dismissed by the council last month after a two-year suspension with no statement about the reasons for the disciplinary action, in what Holmes’s supporters have described as a stitch-up coordinated between Unison right-wingers and their political fellow travellers in Kirklees council.

Unison’s management, as part of what left-wingers say has been a campaign to prevent the left exercising its democratic majority, had banned branches from showing the union’s own president any support and was accused of obstructing his defence, but then quietly ended its own suspension of Holmes in November and a senior Unison officer unconditionally apologised for defaming him.

But in a blow to the union’s right, Unison – which now has a left-wing majority on its national executive – last month backed Holmes’s legal fight for ‘interim relief’ as a victimised trade union rep. Skwawkbox understands that the manager’s report of the plan to break Holmes and the union branch played a role in the Unison legal department’s decision.

Skwawkbox contacted the council’s press office, asking:

  • Does the council deny that these events took place?
  • Does the council deny that this information has a bearing on its disciplinary action against Paul Holmes and his claim that he has suffered victimisation as a union rep?

The council claimed it was unaware of the senior management meeting at which the executives’ comments are said to have been made and could not comment for that reason and because the executive no longer works for the council. On the comment by the then-deputy leader, a Kirklees Council spokesperson said:

Kirklees Council takes all employee disciplinary matters very seriously. We follow the same thorough investigation process for all members of staff when allegations are made. All members of staff have a right to confidentiality, and it is therefore not appropriate for us to discuss any details around this specific investigation or any other.

Paul Holmes’s legal action continues with a hearing next Monday at which his supporters say ‘a lot more will come out’. With the union finally backing him, at least to an extent, rather than obstructing his defence and the efforts of his supporters, they say the fight is far from over.

SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. ‘…break them…’?

    What the hell is this bawbag doing in politics? Who does he think he is? Vladimir Putin? Lisa Nandy?

    Use political words, use political arguments, use political discussion if you disagree with one of your political opponents.

    I suspect, whoever it was that spoke like this, should have left this playground language behind a long time ago.

    If they’re up for re-election, in May, I hope they get turfed out on their ear. They deserve to be.

    1. On Thursday 5 May 2022, District Council elections will be taking place across Kiklees. There are 23 wards across Kirklees with 118 candidates fighting for 25 seats. The Paul Holmes affair causes me to hope there’s a democratic socialist candidate and that that person attracts mass support from former members of Labour and stomps home – ideally denying the LabourRight the victory they expect.

  2. Skwawks report says the comments were made at a meeting of senior managers. I read that to be mean salaried council officers, not the elected councillors. If so, then there is something seriously amis. At the moment, it’s still legal to belong to a union, whether the chief executive of the council (a council tax paid for position, where six figure salaries are the normal) likes it or not.

    Perhaps Skwawks could give some clarification?

  3. I am shocked by the casual disregard on these pages of the complaints against Paul Holmes that resulted in his dismisal. These complaints were made by members of his own sttaff, 13 females + 1 male.

    1. Are you stevie 👦boy?😕😕….You need to get your brain into gear after its had time to soak after yesterday’s performance….do you do comedy steve I have heard on the news that the Ukraine have a opening after the last comedian left for Hollywood….according to the news..

      1. Joseph – I wonder if some are just programmed to support the line?
        Someone pointed me to the website of a Left Group called Socialist Appeal and they have a piece on their website on Kirklees and the Unison branch which offers a completely different interpretation to one widely circulated by another group.
        Suggest Skwawky readers take a look at it.

      2. Joseph – So much for your solidarity with the workers rather than the management.

      1. George – It will be interesting to see what, if anything, “comes out in the wash”. All we have at the moment is a rather vague promise that there is more to come
        “It is clear that there are a lot more facts to come out about this farce. These are likely to point to collusion at the highest levels between the union hierarchy and Paul’s employers.
        We are not going to rush into print, not just yet. But there must be a number of prominent people who are shaking in their boots at the present time. They are terrified that the s**t will hit the fan.”

        I guess time will tell.

    2. SteveH
      GE 2017 and 2019
      Nothing compared to Red Tories working for the worst government since 1979 instead of the best Socialist Labour government since 1945
      There is a special place in hell for those fuckers

      1. Doug – Maybe we could have won the 17GE if Corbyn and his team hadn’t starved so many of Labour’s marginal seats of campaign funds.

  4. “If the president of our union can be removed in this way, what does it say to every other rep in our union?” Those are the words of Tower Hamlets branch secretary John McLoughlin.

    What does John know that we don’t?

    Unison reinstated Paul in November last year—but still gave him no support. Now his supporters fear Unison officials could try to remove him as president as he’s no longer employed by Kirklees council.

    There is obviously an unholly alliance between the LabourRight and Kirklees District Management.

    John knows nothing more than every SKWAWKBOX reader on this matter. The Tower Hamlets branch secretary simply chooses to join the dots.

    The LabourRight in Unison and Kirklees DC make Mafioso Deals look like philanthropy.

    1. qwertboi – Conveniently ignoring the fact that most of the 14 complainants against their manager Paul Holmes are themselves Union Reps who worked for him

      1. Reply to George Peel
        I am recently retired after a life time of TU activity .Unfortunately over the years I witnessed they type of behaviour referred to in the article you posted and I have no doubt whatsoever that every word in it is true.
        Also I am very impressed with Paul’s Trade Union credentials – he was elected time out of number by his co-workers to various positions within Unison and by the wider TU movement to the TUC Council. He is clearly a man widely respected by his peers.
        I think both Unison and Kirklees have bitten off more than they can chew with Paul and he will either win massive damages at a Tribunal or a substantial pre Tribunal Settlement. I hope so anyway- he deserves it after what he has been put through.
        Solidarity with Paul

      2. From George Peel’s link:

        “Let us take the incident of a management away-day event in 2015. Around 50 senior managers from Kirklees Council attended this cosy event at which Ms Ruth Redfern, director of Resources, Finance and Personnel, revealed details of a plan to smash the trade union at Kirklees.

        “At the end of her summation, Redfern urged those present to chant back three times: “We’re going to break Paul Holmes! We’re going to break Unison!”

        “This sets the tone in this current dispute. Things could not be clearer.”

        Some people claim that coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 which produces an illness that has a higher than 99% survival rate is a “mass killer”, but it doesn’t make it true. Up until these xallegations, Paul Holmes had had an unblemished employment history of 48 years’ service. Over this time, he has never faced any disciplinary or performance allegations of any kind, but suddenly – immediately after Ruth Redfern says “we’re going to break Paul Holmes! We’re going to break Unison!”

        Do you know what a “kapo” is stevieh?

      3. Reply to Qwertboi
        I agree with you Qwertboi and would just add that in order to get any elected position Paul required the support of members in his Branch. These would be his fellow workers nearly all of whom, given his length of service and high profile TU activity, would know of him, some of them would know him personally – they may have worked alongside him or he may have represented them over the years. Either way he clearly had their full support for decades. If he was the bully etc he has been made out to be these people would not have nominated and voted for him for positions in the Branch or NEC ( including President).
        Therefore the whole thing stinks and says “stitch up” to me

      4. What business is it of Council what goes on, actually or allegedly, in the Union?
        As for the complaints they, unfortunately, are par for the course from right wing sectarians in the Labour Party. They, pretend that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic for example. A claim so asinine that it is incredible- Jeremy has a liflong commitment to opposing anti-semitism and racism in every form. And the world knows it.
        In successive General; Election campaigns your people in the Party sabotaged the elected leadership and worked against candidates who were opposed to their sect. They were probably responsible for Labour’s election loss in 2017
        These people, to whose support you run every day, are neither socialists nor democrats, they are careerists acting as agents of the enemies of working people everywhere.
        The difference between you and most contributors to these comments is not one of opinion but of honesty. You abuse the truth in the service of your employers. That puts you beyond the Pale.

      5. The idea that fellow Socialists and Union reps can conspire with an employer to bring down someone like Paul Holmes is pretty unbelievable only if you havnt read the internal report and been in a coma for the last 7 years
        With that in mind
        Ukraine is one of Obama’s fuck ups and when you read how they weent about it you think BLESS black people are @#$%^ as well

  5. It appears that Kirklees Council and Unison have been taking lessons in dirty tricks from Starm-Trooper’s goons.
    Why are we not surprised !!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: