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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 July 2007

Defend democracy - stop the witch-hunt in UNISON

The leadership of UNISON is attacking the rights of ordinary members. So fearful are they of the growing opposition to their misrule that they are seeking to shut down all voices of opposition in the union.

A UNISON member

Under their watch, this leadership have failed to stem the tide of privatisation, have sold out members' pension rights and have sat back and allowed wage and conditions cuts for thousands of members because of the single status deal in local government and 'agenda for change' in the health service.

On top of this they continue to give millions of pounds of members' money to the Labour Party, the architect of these attacks, while they refuse to allow the ordinary member any say on whether the union should continue funding it. And to heap insult on insult these over-paid bureaucrats have the temerity to attack UNISON members' rights in what is supposed to be a member-led union, and they do it in the name of democracy.

The latest attack is on the rights of branches and individuals to campaign against the leadership's policies. Scandalously they have announced that no UNISON branch or individual can do anything but call for a 'yes' vote in the pension ballot affecting one million UNISON members.

They denounced Glenn Kelly, the democratically elected representative of local government workers on the union's national executive council (NEC), because he calls for a 'no' vote in the ballot.

They have instructed branches not to circulate his material under threat of disciplinary action. The sheer scale of their audacity has even taken the breath away of many in the union who would not normally be considered part of the traditional left never mind the so-called hard left.

This attack on democratic rights is part of a general offensive by the leadership to hang onto power no matter what. They took fright at the recent NEC election results where several prominent right-wingers lost their seats. The left overall made a modest advance. But for general secretary Dave Prentis and Co, this was too much.

The abuse of power by these megalomaniacs reached a crescendo at the recent national delegate conference in Brighton. As previously reported in the socialist, five officers of four London branches were accused of racism by the leadership.

They are being witch-hunted for handing out a leaflet that complained about the manipulation of the conference agenda by the standing orders committee.

Despite the leaflet making no derogatory remarks about any individual member of the standing orders committee, the president allowed and supported an unsubstantiated and unjustified attack of alleged racism without giving the branches the right to respond.

The leaflet used a humorous cartoon of the well-known Three Wise Monkeys, illustrating the Buddhist proverb 'see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil'. This is a widely used piece of established political satire that has no racist connotation.

The leadership's attack has nothing to do with taking the issue of racism seriously, but everything to do with attacking branch officers - four of whom are members of the Socialist Party - who have a track record of challenging the leadership and of fighting racism.

These attacks will be vigorously fought, including if necessary appealing to the courts for justice that the leadership seems intent on denying.

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In The Socialist 19 July 2007:

Build a new workers' party


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fight cuts threat to London hospitals


War and terrorism

'Strategic failure' in Iraq and Afghanistan


Socialist Party news and analysis

Can flood relief get Hull back on its feet?

Bolivian oil workers request solidarity

Visteon workers walk out

Metronet - bankrupt firm, bankrupt PPP


Postal workers' strike

Postal workers - fighting low pay, against privatisation and job cuts


Council cuts threaten schools

Lewisham schools: defending 'outdated' equality

Building resistance to schools closures in Cardiff


Socialist Party youth and students

Education - not safe in Brown's hands

Boost our pay: Organising for our rights at work


International socialist news and analysis

USA: The case for socialised medicine

Living in the GDR: Balancing between two different worlds

'War crimes' accusations by mine workers


Socialist Party workplace news

Glasgow social workers vote for indefinite strike

Defend democracy - stop the witch-hunt in UNISON

School dinners saved... for now


Socialist Party events

Socialism 2007

Come to Socialist Party summer camp


 

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