Hand in glove with the employers, the Unison right wing are waging a ruthless witch-hunt against the union’s elected president, Paul Holmes. But today's solidarity rally showed that rank-and-file activists are determined to fight back.

Hand in glove with the employers, the Unison right wing are waging a ruthless witch-hunt against the union’s elected president, Paul Holmes. But today's solidarity rally showed that rank-and-file activists are determined to fight back.

The right wing’s victimisation campaign against elected Unison president Paul Holmes has entered a new phase.

Hoping to deal with him behind closed doors, Kirklees Council this morning called him to the first of several disciplinary meetings at a four-star hotel on the outskirts of Huddersfield.

This is far away from the council’s own offices, and is a difficult place to get to. No doubt the aim was to isolate Paul, and therefore put even further pressure on him.

Kirklees Council had not, however, counted on the fury their victimisation has provoked amongst the rank and file of the labour movement.

Solidarity

Over 110 people, including many Socialist Appeal supporters, attended an online rally this morning, at the start time of the disciplinary, to show support for Paul.

Rally attendees condemned both Kirklees Council and Unison’s right-wing bureaucracy – the latter of whom have scandalously abandoned their union’s elected president to his fate.

Impressively, this online rally was matched by a physical lobby outside the hotel itself, where around 50 people demonstrated their solidarity.

Socialist Appeal supporters were present on the ground, taking a stand against this scandalous victimisation campaign.

Many of the workers we spoke to had travelled from far and wide to be there, including a contingent from Barnet Unison. Also present were a number of members from Paul’s Unison branch in Kirklees, along with a host of supporters from other unions.

“For a Labour council to be doing this to Paul is absolutely disgusting,” one worker from Kirklees Unison told our comrades. “It’s even worse that the union has offered him no help. He’s paid his dues to them for forty or fifty years, and they won’t even help him!”

While Paul has a union rep by his side, it is true that the Unison general secretary, Christine McAnea, has offered no support whatsoever. In fact, the silence has been deafening from these figures on the union right, who normally have so much to say.

Civil war

Socialist Appeal supporters have also spoken out about the injustice of the situation. In a contribution at this morning’s online rally, for example, Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, noted the importance of this battle in the context of the wider civil war inside the British labour movement.

“They have come for the president of the largest union in the country,” Rob emphasised, “and that means nobody is safe.”

“What’s needed is a unified campaign,” Rob continued, “not just in Unison, but across the whole labour movement, to take on the right wing in councils like this, and in the unions too, to bring these bureaucrats to heel and put them in their place!”

Fightback

Socialist Appeal stands firmly with Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison branch, and every socialist and trade unionist who has become the subject of a witch-hunt by the right wing in the trade unions and Labour Party.

An injury to one is an injury to all. That is why rank-and-file activists across the labour movement must mobilise to fight back and defeat this attack.

  • No to trade union victimisation! End the witch-hunt against Paul Holmes and Kirklees Unison branch!
  • End the stranglehold of the bureaucracy over Unison! Officials must be elected by the rank and file, made accountable to the membership, and put on a worker’s wage!
  • No more rotten Labour councils! Deselect councillors who pass on Tory cuts and attack unions, and replace them with genuine socialists on a fighting platform!