Thursday, 13 July 2017

I hate you Depression

" I hate you depression. 

You haunt me and turn up when you are not welcome. 

You disappear for months on end then bang, you're back expecting to be fed and watered. 

I know you have always been a part of me, I just never wanted to admit it to myself. 

But, you forget I am an organiser. 

I know your powers. I know your weaknesses. 

This time I'm ready for you. 

Do your worst I fear you no more!

Sssh, I'll let you into a little secret. 

I talk. 

I talk about you. 

I don't care what you say or do. 

Others know you. 

They have told me about you and what you do to them. 

Well Depression. 

We're not hiding away . 

We are talking and we are going to keep on talking because we know your game see. 

You seek to isolate us, keep us from talking to others just so we spend more and more time with you. 

We know it's not easy. You are strong but we are getting stronger together. 

We are standing together in solidarity which is something you don't like. 

I'm going now, do your worst, I'm not afraid of you anymore."

Wishing all good mental health 



Monday, 3 July 2017

“Would you challenge disability discrimination in the workplace?”

In March 2017 I wrote a short post entitled “Disability Workplace Scenario: What would you do?”
Here it is:
“In a workplace I know there is a regular meeting held in a room.
The room for one of the workers is inaccessible because of their disability.
Several colleagues have raised the accessibility issue with the employer, but the meetings continue to be held in the same room.
Some of the workers colleagues refuse to attend the meeting in the room with the employer and sit in solidarity with the worker with the disability, a electronic link is provided in the room, but it does not allow those not in the room to fully participate in the meetings.
My question to grassroots trade unions members is what would you do?
1. Sit in solidarity with the worker and apply pressure on the employer to move to a fully accessible room.
2. Ask the employer to move to a more accessible room but continue to sit in the room with the employer.
3. Just sit in the room with the employer and do nothing.
I know what I would do, but interested in what others think is right.”
It attracted a good deal of opinion including one which suggested contacting the union.
Well, have a read of this Blog post entitled: “I wish UNISON would make all NEC meetings fully accessible”
The post was written Wednesday, 15 July 2015 by Max Watson one of the hardest working trade union reps I have ever met.
He wrote the article to highlight the plight of one of NEC UNISON reps.
Read the article yourself, but from what I can gather the current situation is still ongoing as Max wrote
“A consistent group of conscientious NEC members, in solidarity with the Local Government General Seat member, Paul Holmes, who is not able to go up to the ninth floor, sit with him in a video conference room on the first floor. It is just not right to leave our fellow NEC member sitting alone talking through a mic to the rest of the council just because he has a disability.”
Tomorrow the new NEC are meeting for the first time.
There is now a much bigger group UNISON Action Broad Left looking to make our union more ‘transparent, accountable and democratic.’ We must get behind them.
For now they number 29.
As for the issue raised by Max I hope common sense will prevail and the current seating arrangement is dealt with, just like we would deal with it if it was an employer.
I agree with Max when he states:
“There is a simple, agreeable solution: to all meet on the ground floor.”
Do you agree with Max?

If this solution is not accepted I would hope there are at least 29 UNISON NEC reps sitting in solidarity on the first floor. 

#UNISONGATE: “Burgess & Ors” submit Appeal to Employment Appeal Tribunal

On 22 May 2017 the Assistant Certification Officer (ACO) issued a 114 page report in response to a number of complaints.

Whilst the ACO did not rule in our favour on all of our complaints she did uphold one complaint which is covered in paragraph 3 which stated:

“Pursuant to s.108B(2)(d) of the Act, I declare that the Union breached paragraph 51 of the General Secretary 2015 Election Procedures (“the Election Procedures) in that the Union’s funds, property and resources were impermissibly used to campaign for a particular candidate (Mr Dave Prentis) by reason of the following matters:”

Furthermore in Paragraph 258 the ACO states:

“In conclusion, the Union is responsible for all actions of its Regional Secretary that I have found were in breach of the Election Procedures and the Rules. The Regional Secretary was a very senior employee of Union with considerable authority and autonomy to organise meetings, and manage and direct her staff. She and her RMT engaged in deliberate breaches, as set out above. The nature of her job was to manage and direct her staff and she misused the position entrusted to her, which has injured the members of UNISON in that there has been unfairness in the General Secretary election as well as undermining the standing of the Union in the eyes of the public. There was a very close connection between her lawful activities and her improper campaigning activities by directing her staff to campaign in breach of Election Procedures. She was acting qua employee when she called the staff meeting and gave them campaigning directions in breach of the Rules. In consideration of all circumstance, it is right for her employer UNISON, to be held liable for the misuse of her position, since it was UNISON that selected and employed and managed, or purported to manage her.”

We can now confirm that Mr John Burgess, Ms Helen Davies, Mr Patrick Hunter, Ms Hannah O’Reilly, Ms Margaret Myland, Ms Claire Dixon, Mr Adam Tipple, Ms Elizabeth James, Mr Hugh Jordan, Mr Alan Wylie and Mr John Harris (“Burgess & Ors”) submitted an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.



1. You can find the full report of the ACO here

2. UNISON issued the following statement:
“Today the assistant certification officer (ACO) has announced the decision in the case of Burgess and Others; Rogers; Wakefield and Bannister v UNISON.
UNISON welcomes the decision of the ACO to uphold the result of the 2015 general secretary election and reject the call from the complainants for a rerun.”

3. Extracts from ACO report.

Paragraph 138
“In summary, the meeting was used by the Regional Secretary, openly during work time and with the support of her RMT to campaign for Mr Prentis’ re-election. She instructed her staff also to campaign for Mr Prentis in defiance of the election Procedures and directed them to report to their line manager within her RMT.

Paragraph 143
“It is clear that leaflets in support of Mr Prentis were to be covertly stored at the Greater London Regional office in breach of the Election Procedures. Ms Perks repeatedly tells her staff not to leave an email trail about using the Greater London Regional office as a distribution hub for the leaflets: “Karen will get word around the region that they are in her office even though she will not say what they are.” Ms Easton of the RMT then reiterates the message “Just a quick one on emailing that also includes you don’t email Karen to say you want more of those leaflets it’s any email and no emails at all on this. Don’t email branches you want to see.” A code term of the leaflets was set up of “special chocolate biscuits” to be used when more Vote Dave leaflets were being requested, presumably to avoid detection from breach Election Procedures.”

Paragraph 154:
“No matter how many times one re-reads the transcript the shock does not diminish. It is flagrant: Ms Perks’ tone is not just confident and swaggering in so openly breaking rules, but chilling in its brazenness and demonstration of unchecked power. I appreciate that many of the staff present were seasoned union officials, used to dealing with difficult situations and being assertive, but even so, it is deeply shocking.”

Paragraph 296:
“The failure to address the involvement of the whole of the London RMT which was explicit and apparent from the tape of the 21 October meeting is very troubling. The collusion of the Greater London RMT was deliberately ignored by the Union and no explanation for the failure to address it has been given.”

4. #Unisongate makes BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

6. “UNISON: Union democracy on trial.”

Unison election: Now Electoral Reform Services on trial

“Yesterday that image slipped when  deputy chief executive Simon Hearn was cross questioned about his role in supervising the  2015 election of   general secretary Dave Prentis to Britain’s biggest public sector union, Unison. The union paid ERS almost £1m of member’s money to safeguard fair play.”
Read on here

7. Unison election: Now Electoral Reform Services on trial
“Why hadn’t he followed up the breaches in the Greater London area – where he admitted the union tape had revealed there was a breach of the rules at a meeting to discuss how to promote Dave Prentis to see if there was ” systematic malpractice” elsewhere ? He said he hadn’t had enough complaints to do this.”
Read on here

7. Unison election: Now Electoral Reform Services on trial
“Probably the most damning point was following the inquiry by  Unison official Roger McKenzie into  the breach of union rules at the Greater London meeting which led to the suspension – now lifted – of one official, Linda Perks, when he had been told that more officials were involved.”
Read on here

8. Unison: A libel threat, a database and a “cut and paste” email – all to help Dave Prentis win?

9. Unison: Former senior official says “anti democratic practices” used to elect Dave Prentis in three previous contests.

10. Rerun Dave Prentis election urge candidates at Unison malpractice hearing
Posted on February 23, 2017 by davidhencke

11. Unison’s Special Chocolate Biscuits Scandal: An insight into murky behaviour at the top of Britain’s biggest public sector union
Posted on June 4, 2017 by davidhencke