unions

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Bezos and Musk Vs. WorkersTwo of the world’s richest men want to...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 21/05/2024 - 3:16am in

Bezos and Musk Vs. Workers

Two of the world’s richest men want to end unions once and for all. 

Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Amazon are both arguing in court that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional on the grounds that it combines judicial and executive functions.

The NLRB is the agency that supervises union organizing and collective bargaining as established by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 — a cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal that guarantees the right of workers to organize. It is, in effect, the referee of labor management relations.

If Bezos and Musk get their way, two of the richest people in the world will have gutted the enforcement of labor laws designed to protect the right of average workers to unionize. Corporations could fire employees who try to organize, without any repercussions. It could also be a death knell to unions that already exist.

Corporate giants Starbucks and Trader Joe’s have similarly advanced their own legal arguments echoing the same anti-union, anti-worker sentiment. So much for being “progressive” companies, huh?

Beyond their copycat legal arguments, what do all of these corporations have in common? A history of bashing unions and preventing workers from exercising their right to organize.

The NLRB has charged these companies with hundreds of violations of workers’ rights. They’ve fired pro-union workers, retaliated against organizers by cutting their hours, closed stores that tried to unionize, denied benefits being provided to non-union workers, and refused to bargain. And now Musk and Bezos are even going after the referees — the NLRB—  so unions and workers don’t stand a chance.

It’s not the first time their argument has been trotted out by robber barons. A similar case made its way to the Supreme Court way back in 1937. The opinion in that case upheld the NLRB and its decision to punish steel barons who fired workers who tried to organize a union.

Modern-day robber barons Bezos and Musk are hoping today’s Supreme Court will reverse its 1937 ruling and return America to a time before workers had a referee to ensure their rights.

Evidently, it’s not enough for Bezos and Musk to amass more wealth than any two people on the planet. No, they want even more wealth and covet even more power — and don’t want to share it with their workers.

You see, unions are one of the greatest champions of equality. And unions don’t just help unionized workers — they help all workers. There’s a ripple effect that occurs when workers organize: Non-union workers often receive the benefits of higher wages and safer working conditions fought for by organized labor. Unions also play a political role: They provide countervailing power to the overwhelming political power of giant corporations.

We will all suffer if unions are not there to have the backs of workers.

Now these cases may take a while to snake their way through the courts.

In the meantime, please share this video. These corporations win this fight only if the public doesn’t know what’s happening.

And support your local unions. When they go on strike, join a picket line. Better yet, join a union if you can.

We all need to voice our support for organized labor now more than ever.

Unions support Palestine at Sydney 1 May rally

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2024 - 6:30pm in

Tags 

Palestine, unions

Thousands of workers downed tools to march through Sydney on 1 May, with construction and maritime unions making May Day an annual stop work rally.

This year there was also a Unionists for Palestine contingent and a Palestinian speaker who addressed thousands of workers on the situation in Gaza.

For construction workers, the focus was on the implementation of industrial manslaughter laws. Darren Greenfield from the CFMEU said, “the unions have got them to agree to bring industrial manslaughter into NSW. It is the only state in the country that doesn’t have it.”

Mel Gatfield from UWU also informed the crowd that about 100 workers had, that morning, walked off a logistics site in Eastern Creek, where, “Our members are trying to support their families on wages that have gone backwards.”

Gatfield also recognised cleaning workers fighting “to stop the casualisation of jobs and to end the two tier workforce policies”, arguing “The Labor government can make 7000 good jobs in every corner of the state by bringing those cleaners back in house.”

Jana Fayyad of the Palestine Justice Movement told the crowd, “I’ve seen incredible union support over the last six and a half months, in particular from the MUA. You hold the power, and you can say no to apartheid Israel. You can say no to any kind of work that is complicit in the genocide and occupation of Palestinians.”

Paul Keating from MUA also criticised the NSW government by calling on Chris Minns to “get rid of those anti-protest laws”, as well as demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, sanctions on Israel and arms embargoes until there is justice for Palestine.

Jana also mentioned the recent ACTU statement calling for an end to military trade with Israel and expressing concern “at evidence that Australian companies supply parts” for “F-35 fighter jets to drop bombs on Gaza”.

The CFMEU was also key to pushing for the statement on the ACTU Executive, following organising against ZIM shipping for sanctions on Israeli companies.

Trade unionists and other Palestine supporters will rally at ports around the country on 25 May to demand an arms embargo and trade sanctions on Israel, and to call for the dropping of charges against MUA members and other activists arrested during the March picket of ZIM shipping.

By Niko Chlopicki

The post Unions support Palestine at Sydney 1 May rally first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Exclusive: key Unite committee walks out, says will start legal action against union

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/05/2024 - 11:27pm in

Elected representatives walk out accusing Sharon Graham of stifling democracy and destroying the union, with Unite’s employed officers on the verge of industrial action against the union

Protesters holding a demo outside a meeting of Unite’s executive committee in March. Insert: general secretary Sharon Graham

In dramatic news that will further hit the management of the Unite union, which has been blighted by complaints of abuse, destruction of evidence and the betrayal of the oppressed people of Gaza despite the union’s democratic position in full support of them, members of a key Unite committee have today walked out and have said they are initiating legal action against the union over general secretary Sharon Graham’s ‘stifling’ of its democracy and what they say is her destruction of the union.

In a statement issued after the walk-out, the members of the ‘Finance and General Purpose Committee‘ of elected executive representatives, explained their action:

Today the members of the Unite Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC), the most important committee of the Unite Executive Council, took the unprecedented step of walking out of the meeting and will be commencing legal action with the Certification Officer.

As members of the F&GPC we have not taken this decision lightly, but we are determined not to let our union’s democracy be subverted by a Chair who has lost the confidence of the committee and a General Secretary who is determined to stifle democratic decision making.

The background to this decision is the refusal of the Chair and General Secretary to allow representatives of Unite’s Officers committee to address the meeting and explain why they are on the verge of balloting for industrial action.

At the previous meeting the members of the F&GPC were told by Unite Executive Head of Operations, Sarah Carpenter, that there was no unrest at all with the officers and no issues to be addressed.

But this flies totally in the face of the letter that all F&GPC members received this week in which the Officers National Committee asked to urgently meet and address the F&GPC, in order to discuss matters with a view to resolving major problems before moving towards industrial action.

Under rule, the ultimate employer of Unite officers and staff is the Unite Executive Council, and as members of the key subcommittee of the Executive Council, we take that responsibility very seriously. The idea that officers of Unite are so angry and frustrated as to want to take industrial action is totally unprecedented and is a situation that warrants immediate attention.

For the Chair and General Secretary to use every possible bureaucratic means to prevent that discussion is an insult to the F&GPC, an insult to the wider Executive Council, and most of all an insult to our members who need their officers motivated and working hard to protect their jobs, pay and conditions.

Our decision comes on the back of months of the F&GPC’s growing concern about poor management of the organisation and deep concern about financial reporting and accountability. We also thoroughly object to the General Secretary using threats against members of the wider EC when raising and challenging her handling of our money.

As members of the Unite F&GPC we will not stand idly by and allow the Chair and General Secretary to destroy our great union. We will be considering commencing legal action with the Certification Officer before any more damage is done and will be calling on the Unite EC and all Unite members and activists to help restore the democratic control and accountability of our union.

Graham’s tenure at Unite has also been marked by a string of other serious allegations, which neither she nor the union has ever denied – of abuse, cover-up and failure to protect women:

In addition, she has been exposed behind the union’s decision to ban showings in Unite’s buildings of a film exposing racism, smears, rigging and abuse by the Labour right and has appeared to grow increasingly cosy with red-Tory Labour ‘leader’ Keir Starmer, despite Starmer’s lies, his contempt for democracy, his u-turns on promises to Unite members and his regime’s repeated blocking of Unite-backed parliamentary candidates.

Unite has been contacted for comment.

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

International dockworkers meet in Liverpool with message for UK unions: stop hiding over Gaza

‘Peace IS union business’, leading trade union figures tell UK unions there’s no excuse for claiming it’s not their core purpose to prevent genocide – and that having members in the defence industry is no bar to taking action

Maritime Union of Australia deputy national secretary Warren Smith at Liverpool’s Casa on Saturday

Leading trade unionists from Australia, Asia and South America gathered at Liverpool’s famous dockworker-founded Casa on Saturday to discuss international action, solidarity, the dangers facing trade unionists in many countries and, especially, support for Palestinians against Israel’s genocide. And there was a strong message for UK trade union leaders: get behind the people of Palestine and stop making excuses, and that having members in the defence industry is no excuse for not taking action.

Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members and officers gave inspiring accounts of how their union – and the ex-pat Palestinian communities in Australia – have played a leading role in protests against Israel’s genocide in Gaza and have successfully impeded shipments to Israel, despite Australian laws criminalising protest at major facilities, and pledged that they would continue to do so. And they spoke of the plea from union activists in Palestine to get behind the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign against Israel’s occupation and apartheid. The union is holding a day of action on 25 May in every major Australian port in solidarity.

The union representatives also told of their government’s shame in its decision to suspend anti-discrimination laws so it can enact laws specifically targeting Australia’s First Nation people – and how they have agreed, as part of the AUSUK defence treaty the union is fighting, to take nuclear waste from the UK and US that will be dumped in First Nation territory.

And the common thread through all these stories was summed up in a refrain taken up by several speakers:

Peace is union business.

Leaders of several UK unions have been criticised for their lack of support for the Palestinian people against genocide, occupation and apartheid – often against the democratic decisions of their members – and for prioritising defence jobs over the imperative of preventing mass murder.

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

NTEU at Sydney Uni backs the academic boycott of Israeli universities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/05/2024 - 2:11pm in

Sydney University staff have passed an unprecedented motion that will push forward the movement in Australia for the boycott, divestment and sanction of Israel, through the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).

An overwhelming 93 per cent of members at the meeting voted in favour of a motion calling on the university to “cut ties with all organisations that enable the current Gaza violence” including “all Israeli universities” as well as “with the weapons industry and militaries in general”.

Almost 350 members attended, in the largest union meeting since June last year.

The branch now expects and encourages its members to implement the institutional boycott of Israeli universities, and has called for the university community, other union branches and the NTEU as a whole to do the same.

This is an enormous step for the Sydney University NTEU, which has debated the question of Palestinian solidarity for more than a decade. The academic boycott has been hotly contested, with the then-NTEU General Secretary previously flown in to shut down the discussion in 2014 and implore members never to discuss it again.

The result will boost other NTEU branches across the country, emboldening branches to spread the academic boycott and adding pressure on higher union bodies to do the same.

It is also significant for the academic boycott movement internationally. The motion was carried almost exactly 20 years after the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was initiated in 2004, and the NTEU Sydney Uni branch joins the Teachers Union of Ireland and two graduate student worker unions in the US, as well as a host of academic associations, in officially adopting it.

In an endorsement delivered to the meeting, the Australian representative of the General Union of Palestinian Workers called the motion a, “Material step forward for the cause of Palestinian rights amidst this historic genocide.”

Complicit

As Maya Wind’s new book Towers of ivory and steel shows, Israeli universities are deeply complicit with the Israeli state and military. They train Israeli Defense Forces soldiers, develop weapons, produce state propaganda, and grant benefits, scholarships and course credits to returning Israeli soldiers. As she concludes, “Every day, Israeli universities make this genocide possible.”

There is still plenty to be done at Sydney University to turn our demands into reality, such as cutting ties to the Zelman Cowen Academic Initiative, cancelling the “Experience Israel” (OLES2155) course, and cutting the deep ties with the weapons manufacturer Thales. The branch also voted to endorse the student encampment currently on the Sydney University lawns and to defend it if attacked.

But this is an important first step in lighting a fire under the Australian union movement. After the fall of apartheid in South Africa, Nelson Mandela came to Melbourne Town Hall to thank the union movement here for being one of the first to take industrial action against South African ships.

We have a lot of work to do if we ever want similar thanks from Marwan Barghouti or other Palestinian leaders when they are released from Israeli prisons.

There is a clear lesson here for unionists that taking a stand against genocide is core union business. Some members feared that the discussion would distract the union and drive members away.

Far from being a liability, Thursday’s meeting was the largest since our strike campaign ended in June last year.

Union activists ran a highly visible campaign to build the meeting including leafleting university gates, banner drops and contacting members. Months of campaigning for Palestine since October that seemed isolated at times has delivered solid support.

Although a very small number have left the union in protest nationally in the last eight months, at the time of writing at least 15 have joined at Sydney University in the last two days, and many more since 7 October! Several members told the meeting they joined precisely because of our stance on social issues such as Israel’s genocide.

NTEU members have taken an important step—in a boost for unionists everywhere seeking to boycott Israeli apartheid and end the genocide.

By Sophie Cotton

The post NTEU at Sydney Uni backs the academic boycott of Israeli universities first appeared on Solidarity Online.

Fresh audio product: nativist neoliberalism, the Alabama ruling class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/05/2024 - 7:11am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

May 9, 2024 Derek Seidman looks into the Alabama corporate elite and its terror at the incursion of the UAW (articles here and here) • Quinn Slobodian on Peter Brimelow and the white supremacist wing of neoliberalism (paywalled article here)

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.

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TSSA union staff strike to go ahead this week after reps accuse Eslamdoust of bad faith

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/04/2024 - 9:10am in

The first planned strike day by staff working for the TSSA union will go ahead on Tuesday after mediation talks turned to farce, with the staff’s GMB union reps accusing TSSA general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust of approaching the talks without good faith and of failing to engage with staff’s concerns.

Staff are striking over what they say is renewed abuse and bullying – Eslamdoust’s predecessor as general secretary was sacked after a huge scandal of bullying and sexual harassment by senior management, and workers say the situation, which Eslamdoust was supposed to fix, has deteriorated again. Now an update from the workers’ union reps updates them of the failure of the talks:

Eslamdoust, who was recommended to members by the union’s executive despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, 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.

She then followed up her attack on the GMB by emailing all TSSA member branches with an astonishing assault branding the union’s workers as greedy and lazy, and treating the GMB union as if it, and not the unhappiness of TSSA staff, was the driver of the impending strike action for which more than 93% of staff voted last week.

Such is the anger among members at the situation that earlier this month the TSSA’s branch for members working in Network Rail in South London passed a unanimous motion of no confidence in Eslamdoust and the union’s president Melissa Heywood.

GMB reps among TSSA staff have accused Eslamdoust and her team of not informing them that they had approached ACAS, and of bypassing them to try to negotiate the dispute with GMB general secretary Gary Smith instead of engaging with workers and their representatives.

The workers’ first strikes will take place this week on Tuesday 30 April and then on 4 June, including pickets of TSSA offices.

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TSSA members in Network Rail London South vote no-confidence in Eslamdoust, Heywood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/04/2024 - 8:15pm in

Motion and letter reveal deep dissatisfaction among members as branch says it will support union staff when they strike and accuses management of inflaming the problems and indulging in delusion

TSSA rail union members in south London have passed a motion of no confidence in the union’s general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust and its president Melissa Heywood over their conduct toward union staff and the GMB union that represents them at work.

The TSSA and Eslamdoust and her team have been in crisis since the Kennedy Report exposed widespread bullying and sexual harassment by senior union figures, leading to the sacking of former general secretary Manuel Cortes and Eslamdoust, who was supposedly going to clean up the union after the scandal. was rocked by fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against the new general secretary for the treatment of staff, particularly women.

Eslamdoust, who was recommended to members by the union’s executive despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, 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.

Former TSSA Assistant General Secretary’s take on Eslamdoust’s actions

She then followed up her attack on the GMB by emailing all TSSA member branches with an astonishing assault branding the union’s workers as greedy and lazy, and treating the GMB union as if it, and not the unhappiness of TSSA staff, was the driver of the impending strike action for which more than 93% of staff voted last week.

Such is the anger among members at the situation that earlier this month the TSSA’s branch for members working in Network Rail in South London passed the following resolution:

That this branch has no confidence in the leadership of the General Secretary and President in the management of internal conflicts that exist in our union and have been created since the election of our General Secretary.

Our branch has more confidence in our TSSA staff who are currently in dispute. Should our TSSA staff who are represented by the GMB decide they have no option but take industrial action, our branch will support them in this action.

The branch then sent a letter to the TSSA executive:

Network Rail London South Branch

Notice of vote of no confidence in TSSA Leadership of our General Secretary and President for circulation to TSSA Executive Committee

At our branch meeting on Thursday 11 April, we invited our General Secretary and President to respond to concerns that our branch has regarding the internal conflicts within our union.

Melissa Heywood did attend this meeting despite her partner being in hospital and joined via phone from her car in the hospital car park. Our branch very much appreciated her attendance, and it would have been entirely justifiable to give apologies, and not attend in these circumstances. Our branch meeting later agreed to specifically thank Melissa for attending this challenging meeting and will make that clear with a separate message to her. Maryam had indicated she would be attending but did not attend, although it was noted that there may have been family commitments for this non-attendance.

We presented an outline of our concerns which included the following:

TSSA had been through the massive challenge of removing the previous senior management team, including our General Secretary following an investigation and report by QC Helena Kennedy. There was a remarkable and positive consensus across the union to achieve these goals.

We have gone through the election process for a new General Secretary with Maryam being successful in that election, being endorsed by the Executive Committee. At that point Maryam had the overwhelming support of our union employees and members, with the hope that we had every prospect of a positive leadership that would have learnt from our previous conflicts.

Within weeks internal conflicts started to emerge, including one EC member leaving as he found the environment to be intolerable. The derecognition of Women in Focus was illegitimate and unnecessary.

Disputes between TSSA staff and the senior management team soon emerged, with complaints about non-compliance with agreements, accusations and counter accusations of bullying, with TSSA staff now moving to a ballot for industrial action, referencing “a culture of bullying, harassment and victimisation.”

The communications from our General Secretary to the employees appear to have inflamed rather than attempted to resolve this conflict. The article in the Guardian, in which the dispute is claimed by Maryam to be a takeover attempt by the GMB, can have done nothing but harm to our union and the GMB, and appears to have no basis in reality.

Subsequently there was evidence that our President liked a social media post that called for the derecognition of the GMB, which represents our employees in TSSA. There now appears to an extension of this conflict with the Executive Committee apparently agreeing this week to the suspension of three TSSA members who have been critical of the leadership.

Whilst it is not for our branch to consider the detail of the staff complaints, we should however be able to expect that our leadership acts in the best interest of our union and does not bring our union into disrepute. Currently, there appears to be no path to resolve this.

Our President responded to some of these challenges and to many others made in the meeting. There was however no indication that the leadership recognised that they have a responsibility to resolve the many conflicts which appear to have been caused by the action of the General Secretary and the President.

Our branch therefore proceeded to debate and vote for the following:

That this branch has no confidence in the leadership of the General Secretary and President in the management of internal conflicts that exist in our union and have been created since the election of our General Secretary.

Our branch has more confidence in our TSSA staff who are currently in dispute. Should our TSSA staff who are represented by the GMB decide they have no option but take industrial action, our branch will support them in this action.

Invited to comment, a TSSA spokesperson said:

“The TSSA is committed to working with our staff to ensure that we have a union that is fit for purpose and fully focused on delivering for members. We have arranged talks with Acas on 24th April. However, so far, the GMB is refusing to take part. We hope the GMB leadership will reconsider its approach and join the talks.”

GMB reps among TSSA staff have accused Eslamdoust and her team of not informing them that they had approached ACAS, and of bypassing them to try to negotiate the dispute with GMB general secretary Gary Smith instead of engaging with workers and their representatives.

Other branches are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. The workers’ first strikes will take place on 30 April and 4 June, including pickets of TSSA offices.

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Unite Brighton & South Coast passes no-confidence motion in ‘shameful’ Graham

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/04/2024 - 8:02am in

Betrayals on ‘anti-racism, Palestine, harassment and dignity at work cited by furious members

Unite SE6246 Brighton and South East Coast branch has passed a motion of no-confidence, with no votes against and only two abstentions, in the union’s general secretary Sharon Graham. The motion cites Graham’s actions on anti-racism, Palestine, harassment and dignity at work – and the branch members’ ‘dismay’ at them.

In full, the motion reads:

Emergency Motion – Sharon Graham’s Leadership of Unite

This branch views with dismay recent actions by Sharon Graham and instructs her to abide by union policy on anti-racism, Palestine, harassment and dignity at work. We note:

  1. The ongoing disability discrimination case brought by former senior officer in Ireland, Brendan Ogle, against Unite. It is estimated that legal fees alone will exceed £1m, money paid for out of members’ subscriptions.
  2. The collective grievance from the National Officers’ Group at the high handed behaviour of Graham. They allege that workers are being banned from their workplace and/or suspended for raising a grievance. They state that:

Threats of legal action for raising a grievance cannot be ignored or endorsed…. 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?

  1. The banning from Unite premises of Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie about the weaponisation of ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party.
  2. A new feature-length documentary ‘ON RESISTANCE STREET’, has also been banned. It is an examination of the role which music has played historically in the fight against fascism and racism. The excuse for this is an Executive Committee decision in September 2023. According to Sarah Carpenter:

Unite should not use its premises or resources to show or promote any external films or other content that does not relate to our industrial agenda to support the pay, terms and conditions of our members and/or support existing Unite policies. In this context the Union should be especially careful to avoid appearing to endorse any material which causes unnecessary offence to members.

The reason that Corbyn – The Big Lie was banned was not to offend Zionists. It would appear that this film has been banned in order not to upset fascists or racists.

Historically the trade union movement has taken pride in political education. Industrial action went hand in hand with political action. Without the latter workers are left at the mercy of a capitalist system that has no hesitation in using the state to reduce their rights.

Graham’s tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations, which have never been denied.

The refusal of Graham to mobilise against the genocide in Gaza or take part in the national demonstrations is shameful. We demand that Graham adhere to union policy on Palestine.

This Branch has no confidence in Sharon Graham and calls for her to resign or be removed.

Proposed         Tony Greenstein

Seconded        Sheila Hall

In an email to Unite’s acting regional secretary for the south-east, copied to the notifying him of the motion, branch secretary Tony Greenstein wrote:

I won’t say I have pleasure in attaching a resolution of no confidence in the General Secretary but nonetheless it is my duty…

…We wish this resolution to be placed before the Regional Executive and all other relevant committees in the region including the Area Activists group. We also want it discussed by the union executive.

Because of the seriousness in passing such a motion, I will add a few comments…

…The final straw for some of us was Graham banning the showing of an anti-fascist/anti-racist film on Unite premises and the explanation for this by the former Regional Secretary for the South-East, Sarah Carpenter that:

‘ the Union should be especially careful to avoid appearing to endorse any material which causes unnecessary offence to members.’

This can only be taken to mean that Sharon Graham doesn’t want to offend racists and fascists ‘unnecessarily’. Such a position runs counter to everything this union has hitherto stood for. Sharon Graham is an utter disgrace.

Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie was also banned because it might give offence – in this case to the Zionists who are now supporting the ongoing genocide in Gaza.

Graham has not only done nothing to oppose what Israel is doing in Gaza but she has actively tried to prevent others doing anything. She has ditched policy on Palestine undemocratically and unilaterally, with the compliance of a feeble and deferential Executive.

Her recent statement targeting anti-war groups and activists and giving explicit support for the production and transportation of weapons to Gaza that have so far killed 14,000 children, and thousands of women and civilians is unconscionable.

Any General Secretary worth their salt would be taking steps to ensure that no weapons whose destination was Israel were manufactured and failing that would call upon dockers and other transport workers not to handle them, as she did with Russian oil recently.

When I think of the support that General Secretaries of the T&GWU, which was one of the founders of Unite, gave to the peace movement and anti-racism – people like Frank Cousins and Ron Todd – then Sharon Graham’s behaviour is shameful.

Jack Jones, another former General Secretary, went to fight against the fascists in Spain in 1936. Sharon Graham has banned an anti-fascist film for fear of upsetting fascists. For such an action alone she deserves to go and the Union Executive should have the courage to face her down rather than accepting her dictats.

I won’t mention the other matters such as her behaviour towards the staff and Brendan Ogle.

Suffice to say that if Sharon Graham thinks that anti-racism and anti-fascism has nothing to do with her ‘industrial agenda’ then this demonstrates that she understands nothing about how racism is used to divide the working class.

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 embroiled in a defamation lawsuit and a discrimination tribunal case 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.

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