Complaints have gone to Sharon Graham about email sent by Scottish regional secretary Derek Thomson – neither he nor union have responded to request for comment
Unite’s new Scottish regional secretary – until his promotion a senior organiser supportive of general secretary Sharon Graham – is the subject of complaints to the union after sending an email to pro-Graham executive council (EC) members inviting them to a Zoom meeting to coordinate their activities on the EC.
In a leaked email seen by Skwawkbox, Derek Thomson congratulates the pro-Graham ‘slate’ members who managed to get elected – far fewer than she would have hoped and short of a majority despite ‘dark money’ advertising and despite questions over the eligibility and even racist comments of some candidates standing, with several of Graham’s ‘biggest hitters’ failing to win re-election.
Thomson then tells the recipients that,
During communications last week, it was suggested that we bring together the successful candidates from the slate…
To facilitate this, myself and Chris have set up a Zoom for Tuesday at 6.30pm.
Who ‘Chris’ is was not specified in the email, but Mr Thomson’s out of office auto-reply asks correspondents to “Please contact Chris Stiles… from Unites [sic] National Organising and Leverage Department”, which Sharon Graham ran before she became general secretary.
Unite’s rules forbid the use of paid staff for organising elected ‘lay’ members of the EC and lay out who is allowed to do so:
6.2.1 Only members who are elected to represent workers will be eligible to participate in any body of the union, including any conferences, but with the exception of branch and workplace meetings (which all members can attend) and Area Activists Committees and Regional Labour Party Liaison Committees as specified elsewhere in these Rules…
6.3.2 The range of relevant elected office may be specified by Executive Council guidance in relation to specific rules, however in all cases where the representative has been elected under this guidance to the following roles, such representatives will count as ‘accountable representatives of workers’:
220.127.116.11 shop steward (or “workplace representative”/“father/motherof-the-chapel”, etc., where such phrases are the local colloquial term for such representative as represents members in
bargaining and disciplinary and grievance matters)
18.104.22.168 health and safety representative
22.214.171.124 equalities representative
126.96.36.199 learning representative
188.8.131.52 environmental representative
184.108.40.206 branch secretary/treasurer/chair/equalities officer (where that branch officer is a paid employee of a company or organisation which is not Unite the Union), save with the specific permission of the Executive Council, (taking in to account their current employment).
220.127.116.11 appointment as an “accredited support companion” (aka “lay companion”) in itself would not confer the status of “accountable representative of workers”; to qualify an accredited support companion would also need to hold office as listed above.
Skwawkbox understands that several complaints have already been put in directly to Sharon Graham about this activity against the rules, but that no response or action has so far been taken. There has been disquiet before this among union activists at the alleged use of organisers during and after election campaigns.
Skwawkbox wrote to Unite:
I have a copy of an email sent by new Scottish regional secretary Derek Thomson to members of Unite’s EC inviting them to a Zoom meeting to coordinate ahead of the EC meeting. As you will be aware, this is against Unite’s rules although there have already been accusations of paid organisers and officers acting similarly. Skwawkbox is aware that complaints have already been made to Sharon Graham about this. The Zoom meeting went ahead.
Please advise no later than 5.30pm:
- is any action being taken against Mr Thomson for this?
- his email mentions ‘communications’ that led to him arranging the zoom meeting for the pro-Sharon ‘slate’ – whose communications?
- was Mr Thomson acting on Ms Graham’s orders or with her knowledge or permission?
As requested on previous occasions, please respond substantively rather than sending the same generic smears Unite has used previously against Skwawkbox for daring to scrutinise the conduct of its leadership and senior officers.
A similar enquiry was sent to Mr Thomson. Neither he nor the union have replied at the time of writing, more than three hours after the expiry of the deadline.
As well as the numerous concerns over the conduct of the EC election, the union and Sharon Graham have failed to deny that she attempted to have evidence destroyed in bullying and misogyny complaints about her husband, whom she now employs in her office despite a final warning from the union for his behaviour; the union took no action against one of her closest allies despite finding that he had made racist comments on social media, while another candidate who stood on her slate also made racist posts. Ms Graham then denied knowing him, despite being pictured with him in his election materials.
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.