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Bromley Unison reps resign in protest at union's disgraceful actions
Bromley council Unison's officers and stewards have resigned from Unison en masse and are to join the union Unite. After long and dedicated service to Unison their decision was not a light one.
They are calling on all the council's Unison members to join them. This now leaves Bromley council in south London without a single council Unison representative.
Kathy Smith, who was the Unison branch chair, issued the following statement:
"Faced with the biggest onslaught against our jobs, wages and conditions in our history we had a right to expect that every ounce of energy of the union would be used to fight the employers.
"However in Bromley, Unison nationally has put in massive resources, but not to fight the employer and organise the members, but to effectively strangle the rights of the branch and its members and its ability to resist the cuts.
"It has now been 16 months since the ban on the branch secretary Glenn Kelly was illegally imposed and 16 months since the branch was placed under the control of unelected full time officials.
"Even if you were to put aside the blatant breach of rules of the union and a betrayal of our democratic rights, the most damning thing is that we find ourselves in the position of being part of a branch run by full-time officials who have sat back and not led a single campaign in defence of members.
"We had the disgraceful position of 140 personal care workers being made redundant, yet the only meetings, lobbies and campaign organised to defend these members were run by the staff side secretary.
"Whilst 35 education and youth workers' jobs were attacked, not one of the full-time officers attended negotiations or organised any protest or allowed us to do so.
"One third of the parks service jobs have recently been cut and the union officials did nothing again. The only lobbies, petitions and protests were organised by the staff side secretary.
"When the council set its budget in February, where £30 million of cuts were passed, the full-time officials walked through a lobby of members without a word to them.
"The officials simply sat at the back of the council chamber rather than joining or indeed organising a lobby in defence of jobs and services.
"In these circumstances is it any wonder that members are asking what they are paying their subs for?
"Alongside all of this it has been shocking to find out from senior officers of the council that these union officials have been regularly meeting with our Tory employers.
"They have not only tried to get Glenn removed from his role as the staff side secretary but they have also demanded the council remove my facility time as the Unison branch chair.
"Given that I was and have never been subject to any investigation let alone a ban by Unison, such actions are despicable and demonstrate the real motivations of the actions against the branch."
Kathy was recently elected to Unison's executive committee (NEC) on a clear anti-witch hunt platform, demanding the lifting of the bans on holding office imposed on Glenn Kelly and three other London Unison activists - the "Four", and the lifting of the regional supervision of branches.
When Kathy attended her first NEC on 13 July, she tried to carry out her mandate. She proposed that if the position of the union is that it would not break the law then it should lift the bans, as the union has been found guilty in a court of law of illegally imposing them.
She also complained that there is no right in the rule book for branches to be taken into regional supervision and that under the rules the NEC must not do anything that is not within the rule book.
As such they should lift the regional supervision. Unfortunately the NEC was not even allowed to debate these issues and she was simply told it wasn't a matter for the NEC.
"I am resigning from Unison with immediate effect..."
One Bromley Unison member wrote a furious letter of resignation:
"I am resigning from Unison with immediate effect... the most important point from my perspective (and I can say most of my fellow workers) - the complete and utter disgraceful treatment of Glenn Kelly.
"If you think that we are so stupid as not to be able to see that you are willing to rid yourselves of Glenn Kelly, at any cost, even at the expense of our branch being taken out of action, you are sorely mistaken.
"I for one would be very interested to know how much this witch-hunt has cost Unison members in real financial terms. It is just a shame that the same amount of vicious, nasty underhanded tactics you have employed in trying to expel Glenn Kelly from Unison are not applied when acting on behalf of fully paid-up members of the union.
"I would rather stand alone with Glenn Kelly than stand beside a thousand of Dave Prentis [Unison general secretary] and his ilk!"
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 July 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.