Sunday, 11 September 2016

UNISONGATE, Mental Health and Labour Party

I have received some negative feedback at the recent post I released about the upcoming UNISONGATE hearing


It seems that some within our union and others across the labour movement don’t think I and my fellow complainants should air the concerns we have in public, one even went as far to say “only despicable cowards that challenge democratically elected leaders.” 

Others have made it clear that by going to the Certification Officer about the serious issues raised during the UNISON General Secretary election I and my fellow complainants are betraying the trade union movement.

I have to say that whilst I respect their right to that view it is something I cannot do. Not just because it goes against everything that I have been fighting for but that ultimately staying silent and acting like a spectator is for me a betrayal of the trust our members place in their union. They want to believe their reps are true to their beliefs and are prepared to speak out to uphold democracy and transparency even if this makes life difficult, as an inspirational grassroots UNISON reps keeps saying to me “we have got to be better than the Tories, otherwise what are we doing!”

As we approach the end of the Labour leadership election which I hope Jeremy wins I have been reflecting on labour movement organisations which includes trade unions. For many the behaviour of some Labour MPs has shocked many and for the rest merely confirmed just how out of touch they are with ordinary members within their communities.

In my view the orchestrated vile bullying of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters has at times been tantamount to end what little democracy we have in this country. It is shame the TUC have not organised with the trade union leaders a strong rebuttal and condemnation of these attacks and issued their support for Jeremy. After all, it took his election last year to finally bring anti austerity policies into the mainstream media.

As a long time trade union member and "tireless" campaigner I have never been afraid to learn from others and to acknowledge mistakes. As a lay rep, I am accountable to the members, if they want someone else they can vote me out. It's happened before in my branch and it can always happen again.

What I see with some MPs and some union officials who appear to act in a way that is opposite to the people they are supposed to support is a lack of accountability which in itself can, but not always, lead to what at best can lead to complacency and at worst lead to a perceived betrayal of the rank and file membership.

But this story of betrayals isn't new, it is unfortunately part of the history of the labour movement and there are many others more knowledgeable who could cite many examples.

For me as an organiser I continue to ask myself what I can do to be more effective.

How can I organise better?

How can I avoid the bureaucratic & ideological barriers to representing and defending workers?

I'm still learning but the last 12 months has taken its toll on my mental health.

But as I tried to explain to my counsellor only the other day, there is something inside of me that only allows me to rest for a minute, even now as I sit on the number 329 bus writing this post, I know I have broken another rule to avoid stress build up.

In the past 12 months I have seen the good and bad as a union rep and labour party member.

I made a decision a while ago, that whilst I will always fight for democracy and transparency within my workplace my union and my party.

I will not be pressured or bullied into silence. In the last 12 months I have seen and experienced issues that I have been fighting passionately opposed in the workforce.

I am 100% clear that I will apply those same values in my union and the Labour Party and if for that I am purged then I do so with a clear conscience.

Today I just found out that the Certification Officer has already made a decision on some of the UNISONGATE complaints online here.

I want to publicly express solidarity to the UNISON member who has taken the decision to speak out over this matter. He still has other complaints as do I and my fellow complainants.


1 comment:

  1. you are an inspiration John x - - - thank god we have people like you in our movement fighting for us x and as for doing the wrong thing for your mental health - I disagree - as a person with multiple mental health challenges I know for me that accepting injustice and staying quiet is actually MORE likely to cause you stress and affect your peace of mind!! Some of us seem to be born to speak out the truth - and it's a difficult role in life - but as my mum used to say - and i've always told my daughter - 'a lie hurts much more than the truth'!!! I hope your members have got your back John - I can't put into words how much respect I have for you - if only there were more like you - solidarity mate x - your the salt of the earth xx