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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’.

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

Unite 4 Gaza slams Graham’s ‘extraordinary’ attack on anti-genocide campaigners

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/04/2024 - 7:54am in

Letter from ‘war monger’ attempting to justify her conduct and silence continues to backfire as anti-genocide group condemns betrayal of Palestinian civilians and of workers and movement

Unite members who have formed a group to campaign against Israel’s genocide in Gaza have written a response to the union’s general secretary Sharon Graham’s letter last week attempting to justify her lack of action to support Palestinians:

Response to the Statement by Sharon Graham on Palestine

On 26 March Sharon Graham, the General Secretary of Unite, and Andy Green, Chair of the Executive, issued an extraordinary statement attacking Palestine solidarity supporters. In particular it attempted to justify the leadership’s refusal to give any support to the Palestinians or Unite members campaigning to end Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

When Israel launched its attack on Gaza Unite issued a statement on 16 October which ‘unreservedly’ condemned and expressed its ‘revulsion’ over Israeli deaths on October 7 whilst merely ‘deploring’ the mass murder of women and children in Gaza.

It was only after concerted protests by Unite activists that after 4 weeks Unite issued a second statement on 3 November calling for an ‘immediate unconditional ceasefire by all parties in Israel and Gaza.’ There was no mention of Israel’s genocidal attack on Gaza.

Since then there has been radio silence. There has been no publicity about the national demonstrations and no support for members wanting to take solidarity action. Despite repeated protests and petitions by members Sharon Graham has failed to attend or speak at the national demonstrations. Graham even tried to persuade Peter Kavanagh of London & Eastern Region not to speak.

Unite did absolutely nothing until a letter was sent on 25 March to the Palestinian trade union PGFTU, whose offices in Gaza had been bombed more than two weeks previously on 7 March. The timing of this letter was no coincidence. It was sent one day before her statement.

The letter offered nothing but empty words. Graham and Green are explicit in their opposition to an arms embargo on Israel or persuading workers to refuse to handle arms intended for genocide.

Graham’s letter referred to Unite’s ‘longstanding policy’ but fails to mention that Unite policy includes ‘full support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’. This policy does not even appear on Unite’s website. For that you have to go to the United Left site.

Graham boasts that ‘Unite was the first major union to publicly and unambiguously call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.’ This is not true. UNISON called for an immediate ceasefire on 26 October and on 18 October condemned Israel’s attack on the Al Ahli hospital killing nearly 500 people.

Graham has remained silent about the attacks on Gaza’s hospitals, ambulances and health care system and now its execution of children at Al Shifa Hospital.

The remainder of Sharon Graham’s letter represents a disgraceful defence of the arms industry and an attack on those who seek to ‘to undermine the defence industry or demand the disbandment of NATO and AUKUS.’ It is an industry whose purpose includes enabling genocide in Gaza and a possible nuclear war with China and Russia.

Sharon Graham has openly come out as a war monger who hides her aims behind the need to preserve jobs at any cost. We reject the argument that Unite must support war because our members’ jobs depend on it. A society where an increasing proportion of national wealth is geared to the manufacture of armaments is to the detriment of all our members.

When imperialism wages war it is workers who lose their lives. Yes there is a contradiction between representing members in the war industry and opposing imperialist wars. That is why we support the diversification of arms production into making useful goods that benefit humanity.

The idea that we must defend every job, even when it involves the murder of thousands of children is one we reject. Trade unions have historically fought for peace not war, against fascism, imperialism and racism.

Sharon Graham spits on the memory of the Rolls Royce workers in East Kilbride who, in 1973, refused to work on the engines of Chilean aircraft which had taken an active part in Pinochet’s fascist coup. A strong trade union organisation ensured that the Chilean airforce was all but grounded. Eventually it fell to Israel and South Africa to service these aircraft.

International solidarity is in the interests of all workers. Without solidarity the capitalist class can play divide and rule. Rather than building solidarity across national borders Sharon Graham prefers to play the role of a British nationalist wedded to Zionism.

Arms production is highly capital intensive. Britain’s ‘defence’ budget has steadily increased at the same time as cuts to the NHS and social services budgets. UNITE also has workers in the NHS, local government and social services. Unite members also use the NHS and are being forced to wait longer for treatment because of the cuts that enable increased military expenditure.

UNITE and its predecessor unions have a proud tradition of international solidarity. Former General Secretary of the TGWU, Jack Jones, fought in Spain against the fascists. At the time of Apartheid in South Africa we supported the struggle for liberation. An injury to one is an injury to all. We live in a society in which war is in the interests of capitalism not the working class.

Sharon Graham’s statement is an open declaration of war against those who support BDS and the liberation of the Palestinian people. The liberation of the Palestinians from Israeli Apartheid and an end to imperialist war is in the interests of all members of Unite.

Sharon Graham asserts that we are a trade union not a political party. Trade unions have historically recognised that strikes alone are not enough. We cannot achieve our economic aims without a political struggle for socialism. The NHS would never have been created if Graham’s miserable, short-sighted, dog eat dog vision had been adopted.

Today the Labour Party has abandoned the working class and embraced the neo-liberal advocates of free market capitalism. About this Graham has nothing to say.

Implicit in Graham’s statement is a threat to the affiliation to Stop the War Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Already the affiliation to StWC has been suspended.

We call on Unite to break from Keir Starmer’s support for genocide, his embrace of NATO and neo-liberal economics and to fight for a socialist society which is free from the fear of war. We salute those who have campaigned to close Israel’s arms factories in Britain and we particularly welcome the closure of Elbit’s factory in Tamworth as a result of Palestine Action’s campaign.

See also Labour CND statement: why Unite the Union is wrong to attack groups picketing weapons manufacturing companies.

Unite 4 Palestine
1st April 2024

Unite was contacted for comment and given a copy of the statement, but did not respond.

In addition to the issues raised by Unite 4 Gaza, Sharon Graham has 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.

According to human rights group Euro Med Monitor, since 7 October last year Israel has killed over 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than double that number, overwhelmingly women and children and many of them with life-changing injuries, while Gaza’s health and school systems have been bombed into collapse, often using US- and UK-made weapons and systems. More than a million people have been forcibly displaced and Gaza is in famine because of Israel’s blockade of food and vital supplies. Israel is formally on trial for genocide before the International Court of Justice and ordered to stop its slaughter – and has been found by UN human rights investigators to be committing genocide.

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

Exclusive: Graham claims financials ‘fake’ – but they were ‘on Unite Sharepoint’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/03/2024 - 8:14am in

‘Unhinged’ claim challenged by screenshots – no response from Unite to request to confirm whether union management stands by bizarre comment from general secretary in letter to all staff, officers and organisers

As Skwawkbox covered earlier today, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham sent a bizarre email to all the union’s organisers, staff and officers that was described as ‘unhinged’, ‘flailing’ and ‘a rant’ by union insiders – and called ‘disgusting’ for its prioritisation of weapons-making jobs over opposing Israel’s genocide in Gaza and Britain’s complicity in it.

As well as its section on Palestine, Graham’s letter also attempted to defuse criticism of the union’s financial management – by claiming that the ‘preliminary’ financial report circulating among astonished officers, members and activists is a forgery in which ‘those with much to lose’ even copied the font and layout of a real Unite finance report:

Fake Finance Document

Those with much to lose from the new way forward, including curtailing money given to outside organisations and the new industrial focus, have escalated actions by producing a fake Unite Finance Document for release on Social Media. Most recently appearing on social media. The document was headed “Unite Finance Report” and mirrored (down to the same font and layout) Unite’s usual finance report style.  This had the sole aim of discrediting the leadership but most importantly it undermined the Union. It stated that the Union’s financial position was in difficulty since the General Secretary election. This is untrue and is now being dealt with legally.

Ms Graham did not name ‘those with much to lose’ – but those challenging her claim have pointed out that the screenshots of the ‘fake finance document’ appear to show that it was screengrabbed directly from Unite’s ‘Sharepoint’ system:

Sharepoint, a Microsoft platform, is a “web-based collaborative platform that integrates natively with Microsoft 365 … primarily sold as a document management and storage system, although it is also used for sharing information through an intranet, implementing internal applications, and for implementing business processes.” The Unite address shown on the screengrabs appears to indicate that the document was at least stored, and potentially created, on the union’s own dedicated server. It is unclear against whom the issue “is now being dealt with legally”, since no supposed culprits are identified.

The claim was perceived as so outlandish that union activists have been contacting Skwawkbox all day about it. One said:

This is unhinged, she just looks like she’s flailing all over the place.

Another commented:

This is a rant and she’s sent it to everyone, what is she thinking?

Skwawkbox wrote to Unite’s press office:

Ms Graham’s letter referred to in my previous email today also claims Unite financials were a forgery and even that someone has copied the layout and font of genuine reports to fool people. The claim has been described by Unite recipients as ‘unhinged’. Screenshots of the report show that it came from the Unite Sharepoint – is the union really claiming this was faked and stored on the official network??

No response, apart from a confirmation of receipt, was received by the reply deadline of 5pm or since. It would be extraordinarily thorough for someone to go to the lengths of adding Sharepoint details to a fake, but Unite was given the opportunity to say that it believes this was done and has not done so.

Graham also told recipients that Unite’s finances were “pushing up towards half a billion pounds”. Skwawkbox understands that they were around half a billion pounds when she took over as general secretary.

As Skwawkbox showed earlier, Graham’s letter had disgusted many who read it because it said that the union will always prioritise weapons-making jobs over the need to fight Israel’s genocide in Gaza – and appeared to imply that those working in that sector didn’t care about them being used in the slaughter of Palestinian women and children.

Sharon Graham has 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.

Apart from the issue of Gaza, 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 both an employment tribunal for discrimination and 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.

According to human rights group Euro Med Monitor, since 7 October last year Israel has killed over 40,000 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than double that number, overwhelmingly women and children and many of them with life-changing injuries, while Gaza’s health and school systems have been bombed into collapse, often using US- and UK-made weapons and systems. More than a million people have been forcibly displaced and Gaza is in famine because of Israel’s blockade of food and vital supplies. Israel is formally on trial for genocide before the International Court of Justice and ordered to stop its slaughter – and has been found by UN human rights investigators to be committing genocide.

The finance and Gaza comments are not the end of the issues with Graham’s email. Skwawkbox will cover further aspects shortly.

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

A Celebration of the Centenary of the Birth of Olive Gibbs

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/02/2018 - 3:00am in

Tags 

Council, Women, vote, Oxford

100 years since the Representation of the People Act, the act which gave women the vote.