Saturday, 8 April 2017

#UNISONGATE; Decisions, decisions, decisions

The above link is the original transcript of a meeting of UNISON Paid officials in the London Region on 21 October 2015.

The transcript is in italics and the text in RED are questions that remain unanswered.

You can listen the meeting by clicking on the link here

Transcript begins.

“Sorry not much choice on this. The piece of paper that you have got handed out um you haven’t seen so it is not for distribution elsewhere.”

·         Who gave the Regional Secretary the permission to share this information?
·         What was on the piece of paper?
·         Who gave the Regional Secretary the piece of paper?
·         Who decided they could give this piece of paper to the Regional Secretary?


“Um because this has been obtained unofficially. You have not seen it and you don’t hand it out anywhere.”

·         Who was the official who gave this information to the Regional Secretary?
·         How did the Regional Secretary receive this information and when?
·         The Regional Secretary is instructing staff to lie and not to hand it out, who gave permission for this action?

“We have done very well and I want to thank everybody and congratulate them on getting the nominations that they have got. This is a list of the Greater London branch nominations for Dave Prentis the deadline closed last Friday, I do not have a list of the other candidates, but that will appear in due course but I have not got it. But we have done very well, we have got almost 50 nominations here so that is excellent and thank you very much, Dave is very pleased and has asked me relate this to you personally it is very important as obviously this is going to be a very hard fought election.”

·         Who is the Regional Secretary thanking?
·         Who gave permission for paid officials to actively secure nominations for Dave Prentis?
·         When were paid officials told to start campaigning?
·         How did paid officials know they had to be campaign for Dave Prentis?
·         How did paid officials get nominations for Dave Prentis?
·         Who gave the Regional Secretary the list of nominations for Dave Prentis?
·         Who gave the Regional Secretary and paid officials permission to use unison resources to actively campaign for Dave Prentis?

“There are a number of branches we know as Karen, most of you not all of you, sent them to Karen on what was going on and there are a number of branches also that choose not to make a nomination. And so particularly for those of you that work in Local Government and the EBS I know that some of you hard work in terms of getting the nomination but not getting the nomination because you have got the wrong one so just because you have got the wrong one so just because they are not spoken here health team worked hard on the health branches so long as they are effectively organised they produce results the heath branches the other teams have worked hard in different ways so you have done well thank you.”

·         Who gave the instruction for paid officials to get nominations for Dave Prentis?
·         What did paid officials do to get the nominations?
·         How were paid officials instructed to deliver nominations?
·         What communications were used to support paid officials deliver nominations for Dave Prentis?

“I do not have the final figure for John Burgess but I think he has around 15 nominations from London well more or less around that figures.”

“Heather Wakefield has 3 nominations from London of which 2 are being challenged and Roger Bannister I think has 2 nominations from 2 different branches.”

·         How does the Regional Secretary know about which nominations are being challenged?

“So we have done well thank you.”

·         Who is she thanking, is it everyone present how many paid officials were involved in delivering nominations for Dave Prentis?

“So you can see here which are your branches and I do not want anybody to do anything without talking to their regional manager first. So um I do not want anything coming out of this meeting with these named branches here you need to talk to your regional manager about the approach.”

·         Why does the Regional Secretary instruct paid officials not to talk to anyone, but to talk to their managers first?
·         What was the advice on the ‘approach’ to be given by regional managers?
·         Which regional managers gave advice?
·         How many staff were given advice?
·         How was the advice given?

“What’s going to happen next and what we need you to do in discussion with Vicky or Helen or Chris and I remiss that I should have congratulated Helen on her appointment as Regional Manager she is not official Regional Manager until 2nd November but she is.”

·         What was the role of Vicky, Helen and Chris?
·         What instructions/advice did Vicky, Helen and Chris give to staff, when and how often?

“So what happens next the ballot will open on Monday 9th November and it will run for 5 weeks which actually I cannot remember the date, sorry closes on the 14th, closes on 4th runs for four weeks.”

“So it opens Monday 9th November and closes on Friday 4th December the announcement I think will be on 17th December so the work really needs to take place in that week before the ballot opens and in the first week of the ballot.”

·         What work does the Regional Secretary want staff to carry out?
·         Who carried out the work, when and how often?

“So there are two jobs to be done one is to get the branches to encourage as many members to vote as possible and the other is to talk to the branches that have made nominations.”

·         What advice were paid officials giving to branches?
·         Who gave permission for staff to use unison resources to campaign for Dave Prentis?

“So let’s start with the branches that have made nominations.”

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?

“The branches that have made nominations can legitimately and democratically should notify their members that they have nominated Dave and that they have made the nominations so they can send out an email to their members telling them that the ballot is going to open on 9th November and that their branch nominated Dave Prentis.”

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?

“They can also legitimately put a footer on all emails saying vote in the General Secretary elections and that our branch nominated Dave Prentis.”

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?

“They can also send out a newsletter with a small piece in it that says General Secretary Election opens on 9th November all members encouraged to vote and our branch nominated Dave Prentis.”

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?

“Now I am told that we are going to get wording for that but we have not got it yet, but will get wording for that next week I am told so we can get that to you.”

·         “I am told..”: Who is the Regional Secretary referring to?
·         What wording did the Regional Secretary get to paid officials?
·         Who was it sent to and how?

“So what we should get next week is a bundle of leaflets from the vote Dave Prentis campaign, a huge bundle of leaflets I am told and we will get posters as well. So the priority once we have got those is going to be for, not all of you necessarily but some of you, to be approaching the branches that have made the nominations and get the leaflets to them with the posters and sit down with them, go through with them what they should be doing.”

·         Who gave permission for Dave Prentis leaflets/posters to be stored in the UNISON London Region office?
·         Which paid officials carried out this action on behalf of Dave Prentis?
·         Which branches were approached?

“What you should really be doing is setting aside the three or four days immediately after the lobby of parliament.”

·         Who gave permission to set aside three to four days for campaigning?

The lobby of parliament is the 2nd of November it is the week before the ballot opens so we should have the materials by then it would be good to talk to the supporting branches now or this week or early next week, early next week will be fine. But set some time aside week commencing 2nd November to actually get the leaflets and posters around the branches and to sit down with the branch secretary with the wording and say right you can put this email out and put this in the newsletter and put this as an email footer. There are also branches that do Facebook and twitter there is some text for Facebook and Twitter. So we need you to start planning ahead on that one talk to the branches to be prepared and get them focused, the best will in the world the branches will mean to do it but they won’t do it so you need to get them focussed that this has to be sorted out by week commencing 2nd November cause ideally they start putting stuff out just before the ballot starts um we do not know for certain but I presume the ballot papers will start landing on 2nd November. So talk to the branches get their head around the fact that the first week Monday 9th November is when people will vote, if they do not vote that week they will not vote at all, the ballot papers will be going out to their home addresses so it’s quite obviously not straight forward to get them organised to vote but if branches can get stuff out in the few days before the votes opening, we want you to vote, we nominated Dave that’s what we need to do, so that’s for the branches on this list.”

·         What unison resources were provided to carry out the actions presented by the Regional Secretary?
·         How much staff time was spent visiting and speaking to branches?
·         How were branches contacted?
·         How were leaflets/posters distributed?

“For all the other branches there is still a job to do but it is less focused and less directed so you will have to use your judgement but everybody can get a supply of leaflets and everybody can attempt to talk to friendly people in branches, there will be branches that didn’t nominate because they could not get their act together and there will be branches that nominated one of the opposition and that you may not find it easy to go into at all or there may be one or two people in silos in the branch who may be able to get leaflets out to people who are interested in voting for Dave. So you will have to use your judgement on that but we will have leaflets I hope sometime by midweek next week so you can get a bundle and start getting them into the hands of those in the branch who did not nominate.”

·         Who distributed the leaflets?

“This is a lay member activity briefing so you understand so the lay members can hand out leaflets to who they like there is nothing to stop them handing out to any member at all and they should but they won’t have that benefit of openly banging it round the branch publically and say we have made a nomination and effectively we are not encouraging you to vote for Dave. But they can still hand things out put stuff on notice boards scatter things in canteens and that is what we want them to do.”

·         Which branches were contacted and who distributed the leaflets/posters?

“We have not been given this yet but there will be a helpline for people that have lost their ballot paper and we do not normally get that until the ballot has opened which is a pain in the neck normally opens a week after the ballots open as soon as we have got that we will put it round and then you can talk to the branches, those where there are queries or they think they need to contact them as people will lose their ballot papers or the dog will be sick on it or kids will rip it up.”

“Hand shot up there and I will take questions in a minute.”

“This is an absolutely critical election, John Burgess and Heather Wakefield.”

“I understand that Dave got about 200 nominations they got around 50 each Roger Bannister got around 25 30.”

“The SWP and the ultra-left in the labour party are right behind John Burgess and have a machine that they will attempt to get a vote out for.”

“Roger Bannister might have a few nominations Niverton socialist party has a good machine and will always turn a vote out for him.”

“Heather Wakefield is an unknown entity as she is a woman and she is going to play the woman’s card even though she has inspired her I did not hear it or I have heard about it, on woman’s hour she was blaming unison for failing to do enough for low paid women when she was responsible for it, I am not sure why that happens but there will be an issue around her pushing I am the only woman candidate. This is one of the toughest election that Dave has had to fight and it is very important that Dave is delivered as I have said before that not one of the others is capable of running the union quite frankly.”

“So it is important that we get stuff out, there is also, getting the Dave Prentis leaflets out are the most important thing when they arrive but there are some about using your vote, get your vote heard which are the officially unison leaflets about encouraging people to vote and some stickers which we have here you might find that useful.”

·         Who gave permission to store and distribute Vote for Dave Prentis leaflets?

“So any questions.”

“One more point sorry Chris has just prompted me your role in all of this you are entitled to brief branches on what their rights are and what their role is in this election you clearly cannot be caught out saying vote for Dave but we do expect you to talk to branches, the nominating ones certainly about that. You’re entitled to speak with them about the processes and procedures and I would want you to do it just be careful what is put into the public domain you should not be using official unison email to do this just be careful about witnesses to conversations make sure friendly witnesses.

·         What is a friendly witness?
·         What did Chris say?

“Only reason for saying that, two reasons, one is if we are caught out the opposition may raise a complaint so it is important, opposition gets evidence that people using unison resources which includes staff unison resources there could be complaints so you just need to be careful and use your discretion and do not use emails as these can be traced so carefully.”

“Right sorry questions Carol first then Dario.”

“Carol – Before when we have been talking to branches we were told we could say that the NEC was supporting Dave, when the branches email members can they say that the NEC and region is.”

·         What were paid officials told before?
·         How did paid officials know before 21 October to go out and campaign fro Dave Prentis?
·         What resources were used to start the campaign?

That is a good point I had not thought about that one I think the important thing is where branches have nominated him they can say that they have nominated but yes I think branches can say that NEC and London Region have nominated him.

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?

Dario – bit of a tricky question, with those branches that have nominated Dave it is straight forward they can receive leaflets but those branches that have nominated other candidates but we find that we can trust someone let’s say within the branch so we can hand these leaflets to and then the branch officers ask questions where did they get them from?”

“They got them from the regional convenor is all you need to tell them, they got them from the regional convenor of the regional convenor team is perfectly fine”

·         Paid officials are being told to lie if questioned about the Dave Prentis leaflets, was regional convenor and the regional convenor team aware of this approach?

“Jamie then Zecial”

“Jamie – The branches that made no nominations – inaudible – they can still put an email to encourage people to vote and still say the NEC and Region support, it still encourages it rather”

“The priority message has to be the election is happening and encouraging members to vote and then as a sort of drop in and throw away then yes the NEC and Region nominated Dave.”

“Zecial – branches that have not nominated no one and then they cannot be encouraged to vote for particular candidate but if they use their personal email account but they cannot use their branch chair or branch secretary email – inaudible”–

“Yes it does if anything is sent out in the official mail to the branch or by the branch secretary in their official capacity can only do so if they made an official nomination. So if the branch has not made an official nomination then, you’re talking about the opposition?”

·         Who gave permission to focus only on branches that nominated Dave Prentis?
·         Who made the decision to call unison branches the ‘opposition?’

“Zecial – no nomination but someone in the branch wants to encourage the members”

“Well they can only do it in a personal capacity and they should not be using unison resources and they shouldn’t be using unison titles and they shouldn’t use unison mailing lists, yeah. So that I the official line and the official position and that applies to people supporting Dave as well, means they can still do personal emails but they shouldn’t be using unison mailing lists.”

“Clare and Rachel”

“Clare – so the two weeks you have mentioned before and after the opening of the ballot would that be a good two weeks to tie up the branches to vote wrong way in this other activity – laughter – one if I have one branch vote the wrong way I could get them to convert their intention.”

·         Who agreed that it was acceptable to use unison resources to ‘tie up branches’

“Yes excellent idea, lobby of parliament that is a good idea Clare.”

“Rachel – inaudible”

“I think they can we have always said they can, inquorate meeting, did not fill in form properly then they still can but if it was not a quorate meeting it more important”

“Barry – Branches putting out positive messages from their own, negative messages about other candidate’s”

“They should not put out negative messages about the other candidates Dave campaign is a positive campaign it is about them so no they shouldn’t that might invite challenge slander liable”

“Joy and Joe”

“Joy – I cannot wait for your newsletter – inaudible-"

·         What was the newsletter?

“Ok Good I think it will be next week mind, if you want to put something out this week not a problem perhaps put the wording through one of us first.”

·         Who submitted wording and how was it used and by whom and when?

“Joe – Unfriendly branches that have not nominated Dave, we will come across those branches, if we come across those campaigning in ways they should not have been.” 

·         Since the transcript and audio recording have been in the public domain for almost 17 months what steps have been taken by UNISON to confront the negative attitudes shown towards branches who did not support Dave Prentis?

“I think it depends what it is but the best bet is to contact the RMT, contact Karen, it depends what it is and how serious it is as to if it is worth registering, but there is a complaints process.”

·         Who gave permission to provide resources to support Dave Prentis campaign?

“Clarification Hayley from Southampton”

“I do not know for sure, but there was word she was not going to get enough votes. She needed 25 votes for nomination, I do not think she got that but I do not know for certain.”
“Inaudible question –

“Yes they can yep 2nd November yes they can definitely”

The burden talking to health branches will mainly fall to health team but you should talk to Chris. Some staff will have a heavy burden and other not so much so share it out a bit.

·         What is the burden?
·         What role did Chris play in securing nominations for Dave Prentis?
·         Who else was the ‘burden’ shared?

“Local government speak to Vicky”

·         What advice did Vicky provide?

“EBS to Helen about the nominated branches.”

·         What advice did Helen provide?

“As soon as we have leaflets Karen will get the word around the region that they are in her office even though she will not say what they are.”

·         Dave Prentis leaflets stored in the HQ of Unison London region, who distributed them and when and how?

“So set some time aside 3rd, 4th 5th November to see the branches.”

·         Who gave permission to allocate three days to campaign for Dave Prentis?

“Vicky – Just a quick one on emailing that also includes you don’t email Karen to say you want more of those leaflets it’s any email no emails at all on this. Don’t email the branches you want to see.”

"Shall we move on to the trade union bill."


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Big welcome to grassroots UNISONAction

Big Welcome to UNISONAction members/supporters 

Here is a brief report from UNISONAction

"We are pleased to hear that the most successful and most talked about UNISON Fringe meeting has started to mobilise. 

Nearly 400 UNISON Members packed out our Fringe Meeting at Conference this year making it one of the most successful meetings ever held in UNISON's history. 

The Fringe Meeting brought together a broad based coalition of Members determined to raise the profile of our union, make it more member-led and more democratically accountable. 

It was agreed that the UNISONaction team would seek to set up a regional network of activists who share our aims and would build a UK-wide coalition to begin to influence the direction and profile of our union. 

It was very clear to the 400 who attended the Fringe that changes need to occur within our union and we hope you wish to be part of a lay member led and broad based initiative that will challenge the current direction and profile of our union."

UNISONAction also invited members to visit the UNISONgate at

Welcome UNISONAction to our Blog. 

We will shortly be posting a lot of new posts so keep checking back here or on our Facebook page Unisongate or our Twitter Unisongate2016 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

#UNISONGATE - Jeremy Corbyn a success story

The following short report was found on Facebook and provides some much needed facts about Jeremy. Something mainstream media don't want to report on. 

By Simon Hardy
Some facts about Labour under Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership with the biggest mandate from party members that any leaders has ever won - 59%- more than all the other candidates put together.
Labour's membership has increased dramatically under his leadership - over 380,000 members.
Labour has won 4 by elections since he became leader, Oldham West, Sheffield Brightside, Ogmore & Tooting. Oldham West, Tooting and Sheffield Brightside saw Labour win on an increased majority.
Labour won London Mayor with Corbyn as leader. Sadiq Khan won with the largest personal vote a single politician has ever received in Britain, 1.3 million. It was also the first election of a Muslim candidate to a western capital city.
Labour also won Mayoral elections in Salford, Liverpool, Bristol.
In the local elections in 2016 Labour's performance was as good as 2001, when Labour won a second landslide in the general elections.
Labour has repeatedly been ahead of the Tories in the polls since the start of 2016.
Labour under Corbyn has helped fight of cuts to Tax Credits and PIP payments - scoring significant blows against the Tories austerity agenda.
Whilst the Brexit vote was very disappointing, Labour delivered 63% of its 2015 voters to vote REMAIN. Compared to the SNP's vote of 64% of their voters and 70% of Liberal Democrat voters, Labour didn't perform qualitatively worse. David Cameron and the Tories couldn't even deliver a majority of their voters - only 42% voted to REMAIN.

Even if the right wings arguments were true that Corbyn doesn't 'look' like a leader or doesn't 'get his message across in the media' - it just means that Labour is doing exceptionally anyway. Imagine how well Labour would do if its MPs were loyal to their members and leader and Labour could present a united campaign, unhindered by in-fighting?

Friday, 24 June 2016

UNISON Conference please back Jeremy

We welcomed the positive reception given to Jeremy Corbyn at Unison conference. It was clear to see that he speaks the language grassroots reps want to hear.

He is the only Labour Party leader in living memory to proudly and publicly support trade unions. His promise to rescind the anti-union TU Bill is something that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown would never have made to Unison conference.

When friends and members are in trouble they look for support and now is the time for Unison to publicly enter the fray. Jeremy has faced unprecedented attacks from within the Parliamentary Labour Party who have sought any opportunity to undermine his leadership.

Now is the time for Unison to show its support for Jeremy and send a message to the Blairites who are already mobilising to undermine Jeremy again. Unison needs to state publicly that they will be providing complete support for Jeremy in the event the Blairites do force a leadership election.

 Unison conference has the afternoon session to organise a very simple message “We are backing Jeremy”

A Vote of Confidence in Jeremy petition

Please share this petition and sign 

Note: Jeremy Corbyn faces coup after many Labour voters back Brexit

Monday, 13 June 2016

Private Eye - Team Dave campaign emails

Team Dave campaign emails 

The public were first made aware of the Team Dave campaign emails when an article appeared in Private Eye in early February. 

You can read the Private Eye article here

Here are some extracts from the Private Eye article

“Leaked emails reach the Eye providing more evidence that full-time staff of Unison mobilised to get general secretary Dave Prentis re-elected in December making the union’s claim to be a “member-led” look increasingly questionable.”


“The emails passed to the Eye from within the Prentis campaign indicate that Unison officials were in fact the backbone of “Team Dave”. The emails were sent by assistant general secretary Cliff Williams in October and November. The bulk of the recipients were other Unison officials – a rough count shows 45 of 50 addresses are regional secretaries, head office staff and other unison staff.”

 “One striking “Team Dave” note says: “it may be in some circumstance you may be able to ‘circumvent’ hostile branches by working with sympathetic employer contacts. I acknowledge that some colleagues may feel this is ethically inappropriate but it doesn’t breach campaign rules; it will have to be done with caution.”

It may not break campaign rules, but it still doesn’t look good. Similarly, having Unison officials lead the Prentis campaign doesn’t match the spirit of the union being “member led”.

The third extract above is in our view one of the most damming, especially for those grassroots reps and members who have been fighting employers who are either sacking, privatising or cutting the Terms and Conditions of our members. The idea that paid officials would go behind the backs of local branches is appalling and has no place in a trade union. To date there has been no condemnation of these remarks or any investigation.

The “Team Dave” emails are further evidence of a national campaign and provide a context to the content of the audio tape of the meeting in London on 21 October 2015.