Why we need a change of leadership in UNISON

I have just got back from Unison Health Conference in Harrogate, which was excellent, but left me with a dose of ‘flu (I suppose that is what happens when you get 1000 health workers in a room together).

I have made a list to argue why we urgently need change in the union to transform it into a fighting, democratic union which will fight for people’s jobs. If the right wing get their way, there will be a further clampdown on those who are fighting for change.

1. The union is acting in an undemocratic way. Some of the best activists on the left in Unison are facing expulsion or have already lost their jobs (Glenn Kelly, Yunus Baksh, Onay Kasab, Suzanne Muna and Brian Debus – see the Defend the Four Campaign and Unison Right Wing Exposed) for more details).

2. We have had year on year of below-inflation pay rises and the leadership of Unison have done nothing. Repeatedly, Unison leaders have failed to fight effectively for ordinary members. The union refuses to give any sort of leadership to those who wish to take action to defend their jobs or fight for better pay. Even when there was a mandate for strike action, the leadership did nothing. When it was finally forced into a one-day strike of council workers, it returned to the negotiating table as soon as possible, rather than escalate the action and win a decent settlement.

3. At UNISON’s health conference, the leadership moved that the union should leave pay bargaining to the Pay Review Body (a government quango) rather than mounting an effective campaign on behalf of members.

4. The leadership of Unison is too closely tied to New Labour, which is responsible for cutbacks and privatisation. Why is Unison giving money to the government, when it is attacking our jobs and conditions?

For a change of leadership, please use your vote for United Left candidates in the NEC elections:

Local government: Mandy Berger, Emma Goodall, Paul Holmes, Glenn Kelly
Health: Kate Ahrens, Alison Brown, Paul Harper, Len Hockey
Transport: Tony Wilson
Higher Education: Tom Silverlock
Young Members: Daniel Roberts
Additional members: Raph Parkinson

There will be other United Left candidates depending on which part of the UK you live in. Have a look through the candidates’ statements and decide for yourself.

If you have lost your ballot slip, or haven’t received one phone the election helpline on 0845 355 0845. Ballot papers must be returned by 15th May.

[No Unison resources were used in writing this blog]

3 Responses to “Why we need a change of leadership in UNISON”

  1. Hugh Murphy Says:

    Not only is a change needed in Unison – but in the leadership of every trade union in the world. In Ireland, the unions are led by Employers who work for and sit on the boards of Public and Private companies. EG, David Begg, general secretary of ICTU. He sits on the board of two companies [that we know of] Aer Lingus and Central Bank. Any spare time he has left over, he uses to dissuade workers from taking industrial action against his employers.

    Similar to Begg’s attitude, the leaders of SIPTU the largest union are hell bent on not rocking the capitalist boat that has brought the world economy crashing down – as Marx and Connolly predicted.

    SIPTU leadership have another reason for not confronting Corrupt Employers, which is – because they are more corrupt than the worst corrupt employers there is. Proof of their corruption can be found on http://www.corruptsiptu.co.uk

    When SIPTU still called itself ITGWU, the Belfast Employers corrupted the Union which was founded by the Labour Leader Jim Larkin and had as its Belfast Secretary and acting General Secretary the Great Revolutionary Leader and Socialist – James Connolly, who was executed by firing squad for leading the Citizens Army during the 1916 Uprising.

    When this once great union, with such an historical record of fighting for workers can be corrupted – what chance have Unison and the other lesser unions got in securing fair wages and conditions for workers.

    Hugh Murphy

    • Walton Andrew Says:

      There are some unions who are leading the fightback – although in general, I agree with you. The PCS and RMT have been consistently militant and the RMT have taken the historic step of fielding candidates in the European elections on a working-class platform. However, this still only represents a fraction of the enormous potential of the trade unions to promote a positive alternative to the main parties, which only offer cutbacks and privatisation.

      We need unions to disaffiliate from New Labour and support candidates who represent their members’ interests.

  2. Chris Says:

    I’m very happy to read this. The things I have seen in recent years as a social care worker have stunned me.

    The actions of the odious Supporting People organisation are simply unbelievable. I’ve seen service users being lied to to convince them that their sheltered housing should become unregistered – they have neen promised more staffing, more finances under Supporting People – then the opposite has happened – with finances and staff slashed until many staff are redundant and service users are left out on a limb, relying on something called “floating support” – which has been forced on them.

    I remember the ’80s – which now seem like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic in comparison – and I do not say that lightly! UNISON does fail its ordinary members time and time again, and its loyalty to Labour is out of date. Change is needed.

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