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