‘Ruthless’ general secretary’s push to take control of union’s executive council marked by allegations of breaches and bending of ‘rule 6’ eligibility requirement by union
Allegations of ‘contrived’ and even rule-breaking eligibility, for supporters of Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, in the union’s executive council (EC) elections have multiplied since Skwawkbox broke the news of at least one official allegedly standing despite not qualifying under the union’s Rule 6, which specifies that everyone who stands for election to the EC must already be an elected representative of workers in a workplace.
Skwawkbox wrote to the union last week about three prominent candidates who were said not to be working – and therefore ineligible to be a workplace representative:
Further to my unanswered enquiry last week about Suzanne Muna and rule 6 – which locals continue to raise questions about despite her protestations – please advise no later than 5pm:
- Richard Allday, Frank Morris and Mick Casey, all supporters of Ms Graham, are said to have not worked for years but are understood to be claiming a rule 6 position for the EC election… On what basis are they being allowed to stand?
- if they are claiming to have a valid rule 6 position, then:
– who called the meetings to elect them?
– which branch?
– who attended/voted?
– was the branch secretary of the relevant sector branch and the relevant regional office advised?
As usual, please provide specific responses rather than the generic attacks used so far.
No response was received. An exemption for blacklisted workers that one of the trio is said to have used previously is limited to only one term and cannot be used again.
Skwawkbox also wrote to the three candidates to ask them the same questions. Of the three, only Richard Allday – a transport sector candidate – replied, stating that he was working for a 3-letter firm.
Skwawkbox was unable to find any existing transport firm with the name in question – one with the name had been dissolved last year and was no longer trading – so asked Mr Allday to provide contact details for the firm’s personnel department, to ‘settle the matter’ definitively. He did not respond.
Concerns were also raised by members about the eligibility of Kathleen Smith, who is said to claim to be a representative of workers at Bromley council. However, locals say she has retired and is therefore not eligible as a workplace representative – and her own Facebook page says that she used to work at the council:
Ms Smith is standing for a sector seat, in the local authorities sector, so even if she had taken a new job not at Bromley Council it would need to be at a different local authority and none is noted on her profile.
Skwawkbox attempted to contact her for comment at her Bromley council email address, which was published – some years ago – in the Socialist Worker. The email bounced, with a message that the address no longer exists. An attempt to email Ms Smith at a Unite email address based on the usual structure saw a similar result. Skwawkbox was unable to find another address to contact her.
Last week, Skwawkbox wrote that Suzanne Muna, a pro-Graham candidate in the south-west, was also ineligible as her union was not recognised in the workplace and that two other unions already organise there. She responded that she had nonetheless been elected and recognised by the union.
However, the TUC’s code for disputes states:
No union will commence organising activities at any company or undertaking, in respect of any group of workers, where another union has the majority of workers employed in membership, and/or is recognised to negotiate terms and conditions, and/or is actively engaged in significant organising activity, unless by arrangement with that union. Neither, in such circumstances, will a union make approaches to an employer or respond to an employer initiative, which would have the effect of, directly or indirectly, undermining the position of the established union, or the union currently engaged in that organising activity.
Skwawkbox asked Ms Muna whether she still contended that she was a valid workplace representative. No response was received.
A Unite insider told Skwawkbox:
There are serious concerns that eligibility is being contrived to allow Sharon’s supporters to stand, so she can get control of the EC. She has had her chief organisers phoning up members, encouraging them to stand against anyone who didn’t support her for general secretary. She is totally ruthless.
Unite has been repeatedly contacted for comment on these issues and has not responded. Previous enquiries on different topics – including the alleged destruction of evidence of serious bullying and threats by Sharon Graham’s husband, who was subsequently promoted to a senior position in her team – have seen the union respond with generic smears against Skwawkbox and have not engaged with the questions asked despite explicit and repeated requests to do so.
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