Socialists in Unison hold positions in elections despite ban on campaigning
Glenn Kelly, Socialist Party industrial organiser
28 socialists who are supporters of broad left group Unison Action have been re-elected to the national executive committee of public sector union Unison maintaining its position on the 67-strong committee.
Six Socialist Party members were re-elected out of the seven seats we held. The right-wing hold on the union executive remains tenuous with just 31 of their slate elected.
Frightened, and in a desperate bid to hold on to power, the union leadership took the unprecedented step this year to not only ban members of political parties campaigning in their party name. They also said that even an organisation made up of “exclusively Unison members” was to be defined as an “outside organisation” and banned from campaigning under the threat of disciplinary action.
Disgracefully, as we go to print, it is possible that four Unison Action supporters – three of them Socialist Party members – may face the threat of a witch hunt for simply calling for a vote for themselves and others on Facebook!
The Socialist Party is used to dealing with witch hunts and the union should know that we will fight any attempt to victimise or remove elected members.
The Unison Action steering committee voted to defend the right to campaign enshrined in the union rule book and agreed to defy the ban on campaigning as it was in breach of the rules.
However this decision was undermined by some of the national steering committee and even Unison Action officers who ignored this decision and in the end no material was produced.
Not surprisingly this attack on democracy has seen a further fall in the turnout in the election with just 4.5% of the membership voting.
As with some other unions many members have, and see, no day-to-day connection with the national leadership and the need to change it. After all, the current Unison leadership has presided over nearly a million lost jobs since 2010 and a massive fall in living standards.
For many the union is most relevant when it’s seen to fight to defend members at a local level where we have seen major victories in the likes of Glasgow, Birmingham and Mid Yorkshire, where a fighting socialist lead has been given.