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Unite boss Graham ‘not amenable’ to Irish law, tribunal hears in Ogle discrimination case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 05/05/2024 - 7:29am in

‘Extraordinary position’ taken by general secretary in bid to avoid testimony and cross-examination could result in prosecution

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham has taken the ‘extraordinary position’ that she is not ‘amenable’ to Irish law, lawyers acting for senior trade unionist Brendan Ogle have told a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) tribunal. Unite’s lawyers had first used the term during February’s session of Ogle’s discrimination case against Unite, when Ogle’s barrister Mary Paula Guinness BL raised the topic of WRC adjudicator, former UN prosecutor Elizabeth Spelman, issuing a subpoena to compel Graham’s appearance to give sworn evidence. Graham’s lawyers have subsequently confirmed her refusal to appear voluntarily.

Last Friday, the employment tribunal held a hearing, in Ogle’s Employment Equality Act 1998 complaint against Unite, of Ogle’s request for Graham, who is usually based in London, to be compelled to appear in Dublin for questioning under oath.

Ogle is claiming that Unite discriminated against him by sidelining him on his return from treatment for life-threatening cancer – and that he was told that the issue was that Graham ‘recognises loyalty’ from those who supported her in Unite’s 2021 general secretary election. Ogle, like many Irish figures and branches, supported Graham’s rival, Howard Beckett.

Graham’s lawyers argued that there is no need for Graham to appear because Unite will send a subordinate, Ogle’s former colleague, Tom Fitzgerald, to refute Ogle’s claim.

Sharon Graham has previously cancelled appearances in the Republic, avoiding members’ anger and scrutiny over the union’s ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Brendan Ogle. The situation caused such outrage in Ireland that union members picketed Graham’s long-delayed visit to Dublin, Unite’s Community section condemned it as ‘disgusting’ and a whole sector branch threatened to disaffiliate.

The tribunal had given Graham until 12 April for Ms Graham to respond to Ogle’s lawyers’ request to attend the next set of hearings at the end of this month, after which Spelman would hear legal argument the request for a formal summons. Graham did not respond. If a subpoena is eventually requested and issued, refusal to comply is a prosecutable criminal offence under Ireland’s ‘Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018‘.

Guinness, representing Ogle, told the tribunal that it is clear that Graham has “relevant information” in the case:

This is a general secretary who is general secretary over Unite in Ireland; it appears if we are to rely on the respondent’s submission that she has instructed her representatives that she is not amenable to Irish law.

She described the refusal as an “extraordinary” position, referring to Graham’s recent attendance at policy conferences in Dublin, Unite’s status as an active union in Ireland. and Ogle’s separate High Court defamation proceedings against Graham, her right-hand man Tony Woodhouse and the union, in which Graham is scheduled to appear, adding that:

She is general secretary of the whole union, including the union in Ireland. They have a head office here, her authority is exercised – it would be an unusual situation if she was to say she is not amenable to Irish law…

[Unite’s rulebook giving the general secretary sole power to change the responsibilities of union officers] all links in to the fact that in their submission they say this change arose after [Graham’s] election as general secretary.

Unite is the UK’s second-biggest union and one of only a handful of UK unions also active in the Republic of Ireland, with thousands of members in several sectors. Its lawyers claim that the WRC has no jurisdiction to compel Graham to attend.

However, if a summons is issued and Graham refuses to comply, she could face potential arrest if she returns to Ireland and a possible prison sentence and large fine under the Employment Act.

Adjudicator Spelman said she would communicate her decision on the summons in writing to both parties before the next set of hearings begins on 27 May.

In other news, Brendan Ogle announced this week that he will stand in as an independent candidate for Dublin in Ireland’s European Parliament elections in June.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

‘New Keynesian’ unemployment — a paid vacation essentially!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/05/2024 - 8:03pm in

Tags 

employment

‘New Keynesian’ unemployment — a paid vacation essentially! Lars P. Syll Both Real Business Cycle and New Keynesian models see unemployment as an accidental and…

Women’s homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/04/2024 - 11:03pm in

I’ve just published Chapter 8 of my open access textbook. This new chapter focuses on women’s homelessness.

An English summary of the new chapter can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/womens-homelessness/

A French summary of the new chapter is here: https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-femmes/

All material related to the textbook can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

Women’s homelessness

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 27/04/2024 - 11:03pm in

I’ve just published Chapter 8 of my open access textbook. This new chapter focuses on women’s homelessness.

An English summary of the new chapter can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/womens-homelessness/

A French summary of the new chapter is here: https://nickfalvo.ca/litinerance-chez-les-femmes/

All material related to the textbook can be found here: https://nickfalvo.ca/book/

Exclusive: Eslamdoust continues to lash out as TSSA staff pass unanimous no-confidence vote

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2024 - 1:34am in

Union general secretary keeps blaming GMB as union employees say she keeps exposing lack of understanding of union mechanics

A union in flames? TSSA staff appear to think so

Maryam Eslamdoust and the TSSA rail union she is running – into the ground in the eyes of many – continues to lash out at the GMB union for TSSA staff’s complete dissatisfaction with her management and her team – despite a unanimous motion of no-confidence passed at an ‘all-staff meeting’ last week.

Ms Eslamdoust was recommended to members, despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, by the TSSA executive after former general secretary Manuel Cortes was sacked over sexual harassment and bullying exposed in the Kennedy Report, and was supposedly going to clean up the union after the scandal. However, the union has been rocked by fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against the new general secretary for the treatment of staff, particularly women.

The staff, who are members of the GMB union – union employees are usually represented by a different union in case they need to enter a dispute with their employer – and recently voted overwhelmingly for strike action in response to the abuse they say they are experiencing, held the ‘all-staff meeting’ a week ago. The following motion was passed unanimously:

TSSA Staff Motion of No Confidence in the GS, AGS, and President

Following the recent all-staff meeting on Thursday 11 April, where the AGS announced that the Trainee Organiser’s contracts would not be extended without any prior notice to the Trainee Organisers themselves, the TSSA staff unreservedly condemn this as a further example of an unacceptable and grotesque management style that has no place in a respectful and civilised
workplace.

The further revelation by the AGS [assistant general secretary] that a significant sum of HS2 compensation monies has not yet been invested, losing us around £25,000 per month in interest at a conservative estimate, gives the TSSA staff considerable concern that the union is not being managed effectively to ensure its long-term survival as an independent trade union.

The TSSA staff reconfirms our commitment to the policy of remaining an independent union, and believes that with the right management, sufficient resources, meaningful progress on culture change, and an environment in which staff feel valued and respected, this remains a realistic prospect.

However, the many contradictions between stated objectives and the decisions being taken, whether in respect of resourcing priorities, progressing culture change, or managing the union’s finances, only leads us to conclude this is far from being the case.

The TSSA staff therefore instructs the GMB staff reps to convey the decision of this meeting that the staff have no confidence in the GS [general secretary], AGS, and President of the union.

The TSSA executive member for Scotland also resigned last week, saying he could no longer work with Eslamdoust or the executive supporting her.

Ms Eslamdoust attacked Skwawkbox during the general secretary election for scrutinising her and her supporters’ campaign claims that she had ‘high level trade union experience’. She also recently wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and distract from its own renewed sexual harassment scandal, and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations, outraging staff members who have pointed out that their dispute pre-dates the new GMB revelations.

However, when asked for comment the union doubled down on its blaming of the GMB, compounding the impression of a lack of understanding or recognition that the issues are with the unhappiness of people working for the union and not with the management of the union they are instructing to coordinate the strike on their behalf. A spokesperson told Skwawkbox:

We would encourage GMB to start talking with TSSA to focus on resolving the workplace issues they say they have. It is genuinely extraordinary that GMB are so blatantly seeking to interfere in (and misrepresent) the internal administration of a sister union. TSSA EC took the decision that the last tranche of HS2 compensation would be reserved for strategic objectives to grow and strengthen our union. That is what is happening.

TSSA staff have said that their approaches to the union’s management have been ignored or rebuffed and that Eslamdoust and her team even opened talks with ACAS without bothering to inform them. The union’s latest comment will do little or nothing to change the publicly-expressed view of staff, reps and members, including a former TSSA assistant general secretary, that Ms Eslamdoust has ‘lost the plot’.

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Exclusive: Graham fails to testify in Ogle discrimination case – subpoena to follow

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/04/2024 - 8:07am in

Failure to obey a tribunal summons is a prosecutable offence under Irish law

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has failed to respond to a court request to give evidence in Brendan Ogle’s discrimination case against the union she leads – and now faces a subpoena, or legal summons, to compel her to attend, for which she could be prosecuted if she fails to comply.

Skwawkbox has covered the discrimination case extensively – Ogle is also suing Unite, Graham and her sidekick Tony Woodhouse over defamatory comments made about him by Graham and Woodhouse in an apparent attempt to discredit Ogle and his discrimination case.

Despite attempts by Unite’s hugely expensive legal team, in an apparent demonstration of their eagerness to keep Graham from having to give sworn testimony, to argue that she was not relevant to the case because she is the UK general secretary and other witnesses would do instead, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman has responded to Graham’s failure to respond by inviting Ogle and his lawyers to apply for a binding subpoena to compel Graham to attend and give evidence under oath – which Ogle’s barrister Mary-Paula Guinness has already confirmed in an earlier hearing that she will do.

Ogle’s legal team has until 22 April to file its application and Unite’s lawyers have another week to respond and a hearing of the arguments will take place 7 May.

The Unite argument that she is not relevant falls apart under scrutiny, as she has featured heavily in others’ testimony during the case so far, including her allegedly telling Irish officials to inform Ogle that there was no place for him. Unite barrister Mark Harty has also said that Graham may not be ‘amenable’ to subpoena, as if a legal summons is a matter of whether one feels like being summoned.

Ogle is claiming that Unite discriminated against him by sidelining him on his return from cancer treatment – and that he was told that Graham ‘recognises loyalty’ from those who supported her in Unite’s 2021 general secretary election. Ogle, like many Irish figures and branches, supported Graham’s rival, Howard Beckett.

In last week’s sessions of the hearing, Irish Unite stalwart James ‘Junior’ Coss gave evidence corroborating Ogle’s account of sitting through the creation of a whiteboard chart about how the union would be organised after his removal, to the evident ire of the aggressive Harty, whose approach in the preceding session in February led to several ‘sidebars’ with Spelman and Ogle’s outraged barrister.

John Douglas, former general secretary of Irish retail union Mandate, also gave evidence in support of Ogle’s case, to a similar reaction from Harty.

Sharon Graham has previously cancelled appearances in the Republic, avoiding members’ anger and scrutiny over the union’s ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Brendan Ogle. The situation caused such outrage in Ireland that union members picketed Graham’s long-delayed visit to Dublin, Unite’s Community section condemned it as ‘disgusting’ and a whole sector branch threatened to disaffiliate. She did, however, briefly speak at Unite’s Irish policy conference this week, although she did not attend the union dinner with delegates.

Skwawkbox wrote to Unite to ask for comment on the issue:

Ms Graham failed to attend the Brendan Ogle hearing in Dublin by last Friday’s deadline, despite being asked to attend and testify. The Workplace Relations Commission has now invited Ogle and his lawyers to apply for a subpoena.

Please advise, no later than 5pm:

  1. Why didn’t she attend to give evidence?
  2. Does she and Unite intend to contest the subpoena request?
  3. If a subpoena is issued, non-compliance is a criminal offence under Irish law. Will she comply?

    At the time of writing, almost six hours after the reply deadline, Unite had not provided any response. Failure to obey a subpoena in employment cases is a prosecutable criminal offence under Ireland’s ‘Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018‘, with with penalties including prison sentences and large fines.

    Sharon Graham’s tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in a defamation lawsuit brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

    She has also been alleged by insiders to have:

    Her supporters also prevented debate and votes on Gaza at a meeting of the union’s elected executive last month.

    If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

    A timeline of Wilson’s victorious case over ‘antisemitism campaigner’ smearers

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/04/2024 - 1:09am in

    How the case developed that ended with uni lecturer James Wilson’s hard-fought win in court after smears put him and his family in danger – and saw LAAS director Newbon commit suicide

    Last week, university lecturer James Wilson won £30,000 in damages from two defendants, James Mendelsohn and Edward Cantor, who had contributed to a smear against Wilson by a third ‘antisemitism campaigner’, Peter Newbon, that put the lives of Wilson and his family at risk. Newbon, a director of the right-wing pressure group ‘Labour against Antisemitism’ (LAAS), was a defendant in the case but died by suicide, after a row with his wife, before the case was concluded. The judgement in the Wilson case revealed that Newbon had ‘concealed’ the case from his wife

    The case never involved much-loved Jewish author Michael Rosen. However, Newbon’s fellow ‘campaigners’ have tried hard to associate Newbon’s death with Rosen because Rosen dared to complain about the antisemitic doctoring of his famous children’s book, Bear Hunt, in a social media post by Newbon used to attack former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The coroner presiding at the inquest into Newbon’s death made no such connection, nor even mentioned Rosen throughout the proceedings, but this has not stopped the trolls’ efforts.

    For readers unfamiliar with the Wilson vs Mendelsohn et al case, below is a timeline showing the chronology of the smears and the subsequent legal victory:

    • Nineteen months before August 2020: a confrontation takes place at Wilson’s children’s school with ‘Mrs A’. The trial judge has ruled that Wilson was blameless, but A posts a picture and libellous claim to Facebook
    • August 2020: Wilson disputes with Newbon on Twitter about the so-called ‘IHRA definition’ of antisemitism – a definition that has been heavily criticised, not least because it doesn’t define, is used to suppress criticism of Israel and enables false accusations of antisemitism – by Jewish legal experts in the UK and even by its original author, Kenneth Stern
    • August 2020: in a manoeuvre typical of so-called ‘antisemitism campaigners’, Newbon resorts quickly to ad hominem personal attacks and responds with libellous  claim that Wilson is a ‘freak who takes photos of kids’
    • August 2020 onwards: Wilson tries to negotiate with Newbon to remove the libel and warns that he will sue if it is not taken down
    • Around August 2020: Newbon’s university employers warn Newbon that he is in breach of the university’s social media code
    • November 2020 Newbon gets into dispute with another person on social media – and receives a second warning from university
    • Around the same time, Newbon also becomes involved with the so-called ‘University Antisemitism Map’ which targets academics who criticise Israel or dispute the right-wing claim of ‘Labour antisemitism’, labelling them antisemitic and identifying their place of work so collaborators can target their employment. Newbon contacts one institution with an allegation about an employee – the employee is exonerated by institution
    • May 2021: Newbon posts a doctored screenshot of a famous ‘tweet’ that originally showed Jeremy Corbyn reading ‘Bear Hunt’ to a group of children. The book held by Corbyn has been photoshopped to make it appear that Corbyn is reading from a notorious antisemitic text, ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’. The image is accompanied by a parody of the words from the Bear Hunt book
    • May 2021: numerous Twitter users object and write to Newbon’s university, whose name is displayed on his Twitter profile. Rosen is informed of the tweet and comments publicly that the doctoring was an antisemitic thing to do. The university says it will take action
    • May 2021: As revealed during the subsequent Wilson case, Newbon prepares an apology to be issued to Rosen, then withdraws the apology and starts legal proceedings, presumably having been advised by lawyers that he has a case against Rosen
    • December 2021: Newbon escalates by issuing a ‘Particulars of Claim’, the formal opening of a libel case, in which he accepts that Rosen is ‘in’ the tweet but claims Rosen is not the target, as the target is Corbyn who is reading Rosen’s book to children in the image. Rosen prepares defence
    • January 2022: Newbon ends his own life after a row with his wife
    • January 2022 onwards: Rosen is blamed for Newbon’s death by various parties either by implication or actual accusations. In articles at the time, another case (ie Wilson’s) is mentioned,  but not by name. Some people note that Newbon was running two cases at the same time, defending against Wilson, claiming against Rosen
    • March 2022: Wilson and Newbon’s wife settle Newbon’s involvement in Wilson’s case against Newbon, Mendelsohn and Cantor
    • February 2023: a High Court judge rejects an attempt by Mendelsohn and Cantor to have the case against them thrown out. The pair had attempted to claim that Wilson could and should have minimised the damage they did to him by backing out earlier from the online conversation in which he was smeared. The judge described the attempt as ‘not very attractive’
    • April 2023: The inquest into Newbon’s death takes place. The coroner makes no mention of either the Wilson or Rosen legal cases. The coroner does mentioned that Newbon had a ‘disagreement’ with his wife and that he left the house in a ‘fragile state’. 
    • December 2023: the Wilson v Mendelsohn, Newbon (deceased) and Cantor case leads to a four-day trial.
    • April 2024: the judge’s findings are published. The judge finds against Cantor and Mendelsohn, dismissing the claims of a string of their witnesses and awarding a total of £30,000 in damages to James Wilson. In the judgment narrative, the late Newbon is described as a bully

    The case, which involved the disclosure by Newbon’s widow of his personal communications, also revealed interesting aspects of his conduct toward Michael Rosen and the behaviour of the trolls who have tried to exploit his death to attack Rosen. Analysis to follow.

    If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

    Exclusive: Unite officers accuse Graham & team of breaching collective to ‘crush’ staff

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/04/2024 - 10:44pm in

    National Officers’ group complains to exec and legal about ‘anti-trade union’ actions, intimidation by union management and breach of collective agreement

    Unite general secretary Sharon Graham and her management team have been accused of contempt for Unite staff’s collective agreement on grievances – and of a string of other abuses, including the use of legal action to silence and intimidate workers and avoid transparency, banning workers from their workplace under an implied threat of dismissal – and putting people into ‘special measures’ to control the union’s internal democracy.

    A damning letter from Unite’s ‘Officers’ National Committee’ (ONC) explains that the group has been forced to take the ‘unprecedented’ step of going outside the usual collective agreement to notify the union’s elected executive and its legal director of their grievance, in the hope of getting some action to resolve the grim situation. It then goes on to outline the serious abuses they say they are facing – and to imply that if they are not resolved, staff will be balloted for strike action:

    ONC Collective Grievance over Unite management’s interpretation of the Unite Grievance Collective Agreement and the Dignity At Work Collective Agreement.

    A Collective Grievance under section 5 of the Unite Grievance Collective Agreement is required to be presented to the Director of Human Resources however because our Collective Grievance is about the way Procedures are being interpreted and changed and how the content of the employees’ grievances necessitates additionally an unprecedented involvement of the Legal Director and the senior lay officials of the Executive Council.

    The ONC feels justified in making this decision because repeated representations are getting us nowhere. If employees cannot feel that the Grievance Collective Agreement is to be respected by the Union then as trade unionists we know how to respond. But out of respect for our members and to provide the Executive Council, as the ultimate employing body, with the opportunity to hear our concerns that the rights and protections of Unite workers are being undermined and denied we want to avoid a dispute.

    The length of time that grievances and investigations are taking to reach a conclusion is not acceptable in a modern workplace. When employees are waiting months after submitting a grievance due to a refusal of some to participate in the process, being banned from your workplace when not even suspended, and an application of “special measures” to distort democratic structures – none of these are acceptable or are in the traditions of Unite.

    The use of suspension powers should only be used with clear justification and always with a review to evaluate the impact of suspension on an individual’s mental health before the suspension stretches to weeks and months.

    Using legal privilege to justify enforcing a refusal to allow an employee to present their grievance is disgraceful and anti-trade union. If we believe that part of our role is to challenge power in the workplace where that power is used to suppress workers seeking transparency, expressing their genuinely held views or seeking protection from abuse.

    Threats of legal action for raising a grievance cannot be ignored or endorsed. It is contrary to ACAS guidance, a breach of our collective agreement on grievance and Dignity At Work and a denial of natural justice. For any worker to exhibit the courage to voice their concerns about their opinions of inappropriate behaviour against them or others is a right not to be denied. If it is to be crushed or swept away simply because the employer is more powerful and we do nothing about such unfairness in the workplace then who are we standing up for?
    In seeking to declare a grievance invalid the employer has cited the issues of trust and confidence. This, in our view, is a further matter of deep and unprecedented concern. Loss of trust and confidence is a legitimate reason for dismissal by an employer so to reference it is to further intimidate the worker. Its use by our management is nonsensical since by definition any grievance is reliant upon trusting your employer to investigate and adjudicate on the matters raised.

    These concerns raised by the ONC are based on the senior management team of the union having agreed them which is why in our view the Executive Council is the only body that can hold a special meeting to restore the integrity of the Collective Agreements entered into with the Bargaining Units of the Unite workforce.

    We want the following as the resolution to our Collective Grievance. 1) All grievances raised by employees in the union should be investigated, with Unite as our employer honouring its’ obligations by following collective agreements with the bargaining units. 2) The senior management team should work constructively with the ONC to establish a new protocol to ensure grievance and disciplinary investigations should be carried out in an appropriate and timely manner to balancing the right to be heard and natural justice alongside resolving issues that lead to investigations.

    Emphases added by Skwawkbox

    The explosive allegations compound the long list of alleged issues with Graham’s running of Unite. Her tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in a defamation lawsuit, and a tribunal case for discrimination, brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

    She has also been alleged by insiders to have:

    Her supporters also prevented debate and votes on Gaza at a meeting of the union’s elected executive earlier this month. She campaigned for the general secretary position on the basis of a focus on protecting workers and disavowing political interference.

    A senior union insider told Skwawkbox:

    The Exec would never normally get involved in employee management matters. They would never usually get involved in employee grievances. The officers have emailed them directly to basically say we are getting nowhere with this general secretary, she is out of control using the worst of employer tactics against union employees, we know you don’t deal with our grievances but you are the union’s ultimate body and we are saying to you – do something or we will ballot.

    Unite was contacted for comment:

    1. It’s clear from this that ONC feels trust has broken down between Unite staff and its management – how has Ms Graham allowed things to fall apart so badly?
    2. Unite would never – I hope – tolerate another employer treating staff in this manner, so why is Unite doing so?
    3. What is Ms Graham’s explanation for trying to declare grievances invalid rather than resolving them – especially (and ironically) on grounds that ‘trust and confidence’ in the person(s) making the grievance(s) are the issue, which employees are regarding as attempted intimidation?
    4. The ONC says that Unite is using legal privilege as an excuse for preventing workers from presenting grievances. Is this true?

    The union did not respond by the deadline for publication.

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    It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/04/2024 - 6:17pm in

    There is no natural law stating that bullies have to dominate our lives.

    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 30th March 2024

    The researchers claim to be surprised by their findings, but is it really so remarkable? A large and impressive study of children’s progress into adulthood found that those who display bullying and aggressive behaviour at school are more likely to prosper at work. They land better jobs and earn more. The association of senior positions with bullying and dominance behaviour will doubtless come as a shock to many.

    This is not to suggest that all people with good jobs or who run organisations are bullies. Far from it. It’s not hard to think of good people in powerful positions. What this tells us is that we don’t need aggressive people to organise our lives for us. Neither good leadership, nor organisational success, nor innovation, insight or foresight, require a dominance mindset. In fact, all can be inhibited by someone throwing their weight around.

    Whether in game theory or the study of other species, you quickly discover how the dominance behaviour of a few can harm society as a whole. For example, a study of cichlid fish found that dominant males have “lower signal-to-noise ratios” (sound and fury, signifying nothing) and counter-productive impacts on group performance. Anything sound familiar?

    A win for bullies is a loss for everyone else: their success is a zero-sum game. Or negative-sum: the first study I mentioned also found that school bullies are more likely to abuse alcohol, smoke, break the law and suffer mental health problems in later life. But the bullies’ triumph is also an outcome of the dominant narrative of our times: for the past 45 years, neoliberalism has characterised human life as a struggle that some must win and others must lose. Only through competition, in this quasi-Calvinist religion, can we discern who the worthy and unworthy might be. The competition, of course, is always rigged. The point of neoliberalism is to provide justifications for an unequal and coercive society, a society where bullies rule.

    It’s a perfect circle: neoliberalism generates inequality; and inequality, as another paper shows, is strongly associated with bullying at school. With greater disparities in income and status, stress rises, competition sharpens, and the urge to dominate intensifies. The pathology feeds itself.

    The researchers who conducted the first study suggest, having discovered that bullies prosper, that we should “help to channel this characteristic in children in a more positive way”. To my mind, this is the wrong conclusion. Instead, we should seek to build societies in which aggression and dominance are not rewarded. It would be better for schools to focus on dissuasion and counselling.

    But at every stage of our lives we are forced into destructive competition. Not only are children pressed repeatedly into winnowing contests, but so are schools. In England for instance, with its Sats tests and brutal Ofsted regime, these contests damage the wellbeing of children and teachers. As always, the competition is organised to enable the wealthy and powerful to win. But, as Charles Spencer explains in his memoir of life at boarding school, winning is also losing: parents who send their children to private schools pay to create a dominant outer persona, but the child in the shell might be twisted into knots of fear and flight and anger.

    This counter-education is reinforced in later life by a thousand self-help books, websites and videos. For example, a popular site and programme called The Power Moves, run by the social scientist Lucio Buffalmano, teaches you “10 ways to be more dominant”. These include exerting social pressure, claiming territory, “aggress, assert and punish” and face-slapping. You can also learn eight ways to dominate women, an essential lesson because, apparently, “women sleep with men who make them submit”. The techniques Buffalmano promotes include “hold her face if she refuses to kiss you”, “jokingly push her into a horizontal position”, “jokingly drag her towards the bed” and “penetrate her mind with ‘Daddy Dominance’”.

    Buffalmano claims he wants “to advance humanity by empowering good men to advance, lead and win”. The more likely result is to increase the pool of utter jerks. We should learn instead to be thoughtful, prosocial, kind: to resist dominance, whoever exercises it.

    Obvious bullying in the workplace is no longer generally tolerated. But I suspect that in many cases the apparent improvement is a result of bullies learning to mask their impulses, while they continue to control and manipulate without stepping over the HR line.

    But overt bullying is resurgent in politics. Trump, Putin, Netanyahu, Orbán, Milei and others do little to disguise their crude dominance behaviours. When Trump stalked round the back of Hillary Clinton during their presidential debate and when he disgracefully mocked a journalist’s disability, we could see the child he was – and the child he remains. Our political systems – centralised, hierarchical – are ripe for exploitation by bullies. As in the school playgrounds of old, the worst people end up on top.

    The same dynamics operate at the global level. Governments assure their people they’re engaged in a “global race”: if we fall behind, another nation will overtake us. This story of zero-sum competition justifies any and every abuse. It was used by European nations to rationalise their empire-building and elective wars. It was soon accompanied by a self-serving myth: that the dominance race will be won by the “dominant race”. As Charles Darwin put it: “The civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” By subtler means, with subtler justifications, the rich nations still play the same game: their wealth is to a large extent dependent on extraction from other countries.

    But while the one-sided race between nations continues, we collectively race towards the precipice of environmental collapse. If ever there were a need for cooperation and collaboration, it is now. But competition reigns, a competition all of us are destined to lose.

    In short, we should stop celebrating coercive and controlling behaviour. At every stage of education and career progression, and in politics, economics and international relations, we should seek to replace a competitive ethos with a cooperative one.

    This is the amazing thing about human beings, as opposed to cichlid fish: it doesn’t have to be like this. We can control our own behaviour, and envision and build better forms of organisation. Through deliberative, participatory democracy, both in politics and in the workplace, we can create systems that work for everyone. There is no natural law that states that playground bullies should continue exacting tribute for the rest of their lives.

    www.monbiot.com

    Exclusive: Graham to be subpoena’d to testify in Ogle tribunal if she declines to appear

    Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/04/2024 - 7:09am in

    Latest news from today’s session of discrimination case brought by Irish trade unionist against Unite and Sharon Graham as witnesses again ‘rattle’ union barrister – and former GS Len McCluskey will be called again

    Unite general secretary Sharon Graham will be legally summonsed to appear in Dublin at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) discrimination case brought by Irish trade unionist Brendan Ogle against Graham and Unite, if she does not accept an invitation from Ogle’s lawyers. The news was confirmed after an attempt by Unite’s highly-paid barrister Mark Harty, to claim that Graham was not relevant to the case because she is the UK general secretary, was rejected by Adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman after Ogle’s lawyers pointed out that Ireland is a Unite region and Graham has overall responsibility, as well as allegedly telling Irish officials to inform Ogle that there was no place for him.

    Ogle is claiming that Unite discriminated against him by sidelining him on his return from cancer treatment – and that he was told that Graham ‘recognises loyalty’ from those who supported her in Unite’s 2021 general secretary election. Ogle, like many Irish figures and branches, supported Graham’s rival, Howard Beckett.

    The question of whether a subpoena would be issued to compel Graham to attend was left open at the end of the last three-day session of the case. Harty tried to claim Graham was not relevant to the case and may not be ‘amenable’ to subpoena, as if a legal summons is a matter of whether one feels like being summoned. Graham and her alleged words about getting rid of Ogle have featured prominently in the case so far.

    In other news from the tribunal, Irish Unite stalwart James ‘Junior’ Coss gave evidence corroborating Ogle’s account of sitting through the creation of a whiteboard chart about how the union would be organised after his removal, to the evident ire of Harty, whom attendees described as becoming extremely aggressive.

    John Douglas, former general secretary of Irish retail union Mandate, also gave evidence in support of Ogle’s case, to a similar reaction from Harty – whose approach in the preceding session in February led to several ‘sidebars’ with Spelman and Ogle’s outraged barrister Mary-Paula Guinness.

    Tomorrow’s session of the hearing was postponed after Unite’s lawyers called pro-Graham union employee Therese Maloney in an attempt to rebut former general secretary Len McCluskey’s testimony that he had assured Ogle his job would be kept open. Adjudicator Spelman ruled that McCluskey must be on hand for re-examination before Maloney can testify.

    Sharon Graham has previously cancelled appearances in the Republic, avoiding members’ anger and scrutiny over the union’s ‘disgraceful’ treatment of Brendan Ogle. The situation caused such outrage in Ireland that union members picketed Graham’s long-delayed visit to Dublin, Unite’s Community section condemned it as ‘disgusting’ and a whole sector branch threatened to disaffiliate.

    Graham’s tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in a defamation lawsuit brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

    She has also been alleged by insiders to have:

    Her supporters also prevented debate and votes on Gaza at a meeting of the union’s elected executive earlier this month.

    Failure to obey a subpoena in employment cases is a prosecutable criminal offence under Ireland’s ‘Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018‘.

    If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

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