Analysis Exclusive

Unite ‘allowing ineligible pro-Graham candidates’ to stand for election to executive

General secretary hopes to take control of Unite NEC – but union fails to explain breaching of ‘Rule 6’

Unite is allowing at least one ineligible candidate to stand for election to the union’s ruling executive council (NEC) as long as they support general secretary Sharon Graham, according to members.

The union’s rulebook mandates that anyone wishing to stand for election to the NEC must be ‘an accountable representative of workers’, ie a workplace rep or branch role-holder:

Bristol-based Suzanne Muna is standing for election in the south-west, but locals say that she is neither a rep – Unite is not a recognised union in her workplace, only NEU, UCU and Unison – nor a branch office-holder and is therefore ineligible to stand.

Skwawkbox wrote to the union:

Suzanne Muna is a Sharon Graham supporter standing for election to the Unite executive in the South West. Locals are complaining that she is not Rule 6-compliant and is being pushed in through the back door in the hope of helping Ms Graham gain control of the exec.

Ms Muna is neither a rep as she works in a workplace that doesn’t have union recognition with Unite and she doesn’t at this point appear to have a branch role.

Please clarify no later than 5pm:

  1. on what basis is Ms Muna being treated as compliant with Rule 6 or on what other grounds is she being allowed to stand?
  2. is the current Unite executive aware of the situation and if so, has it voted on the matter?
  3. if Unite is saying that she is compliant, from what date did she become compliant?
  4. if she is being allowed to stand on some other ground outside Rule 6, how many other candidates are being granted similar waivers and by  

Please note the usual request for a specific response to the points raised rather than the usual generalised deflection.

On previous enquiries, the union has responded with generalised smears against Skwawkbox that did not address, let alone deny, the points raised on such serious matters as the general secretary allegedly trying to have evidence destroyed that union staff had recorded to show her husband – who now holds a senior position in her team – engaged in bullying and threats of violence.

On this occasion, some thirty hours after the requested response deadline, Unite had not responded at all.

A union insider told Skwawkbox:

The executive hasn’t approved this and the rules are clear. If Unite’s allowing one supporter of Sharon Graham to stand despite her not meeting rule six, there’s no reason to think it’s a one-off. It’s appalling.

Update: Suzanne Muna has commented that has been recognised by Unite as a rep:

“Rule 6 applies to all committees in Unite: regional, sectoral, and national. We do not require employers to recognise a rep before we allow them to hold office. We only require them to be a bona fide representative of workers – which I am.”

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  1. As with much of the Labour Party Rule Book there appears to be a ‘get out clause’.
    “6.3 The definition of the term “accountable representative of workers” shall be in the
    exclusive power of the Executive Council,
    which is empowered to take into account
    changing industrial realities and the unique nature of some industries (e.g. construction,
    contracting, leisure, rural etc) in formulating such a definition. It must nevertheless
    include branch executive officers who are in employment when employed by an
    organisation that is not Unite the union, shop stewards, health & safety, equalities and
    learning representatives elected at their place of work.

      1. Reply to Steve H
        In my experience it is highly unusual for an Executive to issue detailed guidance like this on rule changes/ procedures. Given Sharon’s past performance and the fact that this guidance is being used to enable another one of her supporters to run for the NEC it seems very contrived to me.

      2. Smartboy – Really?
        Len McCluskey was still in charge when this was published in June 21 and Unite’s ‘3rd Rules Conference’ took place in 2019..

  2. Very sad to see such a large and influential union join the club with the labour party in following the money 💰?Members ignored how long before the info and money 💰 goes along with the labour party in a funding scam
    .Clearly more puppets for the puppet masters.

    1. Joseph – It will be interesting to see the outcome of Unite’s investigation into their new conference centre.

      1. ‘Interesting’? That’s one word for it SteveH. Me, I’d use an altogether heavier adjective.

        Agents of Change becoming institutions of pro-Establishment Corruption and Power is antithetical to democracy. (But then again, she’s only Starmer-ising her trade union and probably shares the same WEF ‘backers’ as him and Streeting and Reeves, etc..).

        We need more grass-roots democrats of a socialist-bent in the supposed Labour Movement – more people like Unison’s Paul Holmes and Howard Beckett.

      2. qwertboi – What is it about shouty middle aged men with very questionable back stories that the self appointed guardians of ‘the left’ like yourself are attracted to

  3. This is a surprising article by Skwawkbox, a blog that in the past played a good role in defending Corbyn against the Blairites.

    The article attempts to prevent Suzanne Muna from standing for the executive on the basis of a incorrect technicality. Bizarrely the article says absolutely nothing about Suzanne Muna’s exemplary record of supporting workers in struggle, nothing about her Industrial Strategy, and nothing about her politics.

    There is also a strange legalistic argument on this tread, about whether a workplace rep can be a workplace rep, unless they have the recognition of the employer. i.e. Should workplace reps be elected by the members or should the by appointed by the employer. I believe that the members in a workplace, and not Management, who should decide who the rep is.

    If Skwawkbox has preferred candidates, they have the right to argue for Unite members to vote for them. But trying to prevent Suzanne from even standing is not good. I say: let the members decide – that is what the election to the Executive is for.

  4. On facebook, she wrote the following response to this article.

    “This is factually incorrect. I’m an elected representative at my workplace, as confirmed by my Regional Officer. This means I am fully Rule 6 compliant – a bona fide representative of workers and therefore eligible to serve on any of the elected bodies within Unite.”

    So the skwawkbox is effectively trying to rig the elections by preventing an excellent trade unionist with an exemplary fighting record, who has been elected to the Executive in the past from standing by means of a false accusation.

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