Your Barred!!

March 27, 2010

A bit like the John Smiths adverts, but not as funny, UNISON have said the words ‘Your Barred!’.

John has received the sanction from the Disciplinary Hearing and is debarred from holding any union office for 5 Years.

The letter doesn’t itemise each charge with an explanation of how it is proven, it simply lists the reference to the rule book and says proven, or not in the case of 1 charge’.So even after the hearing John still does not know how turning up to a meeting room and asserting his right to hold the office for which he received the greatest votes is a disciplinary offence.

5 years barred from office for in effect winning an election and trying to take up the seat!!

The appeal has to be lodged by 26th April

E-mail complaints to Dave Prentis

E-mail messages of support to John at



March 25, 2010

John attended the UNISON Disciplinary hearing yesterday and not surprisingly has been found guilty of 7 of the charges listed on the page at the side.

One of the charges, B1.3 was said to be unproven, in truth non of the charges were proven.

Prior to the hearing John received a letter to say that he would not be able to hear UNISON’s case against him, nor listen too and cross examine any of UNISONs witnesses. He was also told that the 250 pages of evidence he submitted would not be accepted.

When John’s representative made the following procedural points they were all rejected.

Asked if any of the NEC panel had attended the NEC meeting in question and if so made the point they couldn’t sit in judgement – rejected.

A right to hear the case against John- rejected, a copy of the notes of the previous meeting were provided on the day and 30 mins reading time given. It is at that point it became clear that the witness called by UNISON was not in fact the complainant, who it turned out was interviewed on the phone, but a full-time official of the union.

A right to submit written evidence- rejected.

The case should be thrown out because the original complaint did not make any reference to John behaving in a manner that caused the NEC meeting to be cancelled- rejected.

A right not to be Unjustifiably Disciplined-rejected

A request the hearing is postponed until after the Certification Officer decides if John was entitled to attend the meeting in question- rejected

John was represented by a retired solicitor who presented John’s case and  called John, John Rogers and Bernie Gallagher as witnesses.

John talked through why he was at Conference and why he sat in the meeting room that the NEC meeting was due to take place in on 19th June. Basically he had a belief that receiving the greatest vote for the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Male Seat that he won the election and was entitled to assert that belief by attempting to take up his the seat.

John Rogers and Bernie Gallagher both confirmed that during the meeting John was not disruptive and behaved in a calm manner.When requested to leave, not instructed, he asserted that he had been elected to the NEC and had every right to attend.

Both witnesses confirmed that the meeting was cancelled by the Deputy General Secretary and John was not responsible for the meeting not going ahead. In fact the notes of the previous meeting provided to John also confirmed that the meeting was adjourned by a paid official.

The hearing adjourned at 14.10 with the intention of re-convening at 14.45 to give the decision. The Chair of the panel left the room for 12 minutes, John and the UNISON official presenting the case were invited back into the room at 14.37. This means the panel took less that 20 minutes to decide that John was guilty of 7 charges.

The Chair said ‘ with the exception of charge B1.3 all the charges had been proved’.  It was also said that despite John receiving a considered and comprehensive response to his complaint about not being declared the elected candidate he ignored this and attended a meeting that he was not invited too. John had not received a comprehensive response  but had received a one page letter that cut and pasted the election procedure which confirmed that he was eligible to be nominated as a candidate.

John was told that he would find out the sanction against him within the 14 day timescale.

The was a very sad day for UNISON, the biggest public sector trade union in the UK with over 1.3m members. UNISON has disciplined John for attempting to take up a seat on the NEC. John received the greatest vote ,was confirmed as a candidate both during and after the election and has been able to hold office from before the time the election result was declared and continues to be able to hold office.

No witnesses said John behaved in a disruptive manner in the meeting, including the person who lodged the complaint. All  said John calmly asserted that he received the greatest vote and should be able to take up his seat.

Justice was not served at the hearing. The decision is political to discipline John, it was and is not about misconduct but about attempting to silence internal critics.

Wait and See

February 27, 2010

The disciplinary hearing to hear charges against John partly went ahead on 16th February.

Despite John repeatedly saying neither he or his representative were able to attend.UNISON booked a venue, paid for all the support officers and NEC panel members to attend and heard a presentation from ‘The Prosecutor’ and one witness.

How much did that cost??

The hearing was to hear charges, listed at the side of this post, about what a bad lad John was for erm………..attending a meeting of the NEC 19th June 2009……….erm, that was adjourned by the Deputy General Secretary…….erm that John thought he was entitled to attend because……..erm he received the greatest number of votes for the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Male Seat and erm……..was eligible to hold office at the time the election result was declared and the date of the meeting.

If it doesn’t make sense it is because erm… doesn’t!

The panel members decided not to complete to process on the day but give John another opportunity to attend by naming another date, not consulting about another date but naming another date, 24th March and possibly the 31st March.

Below is the wording of the relevant part of a letter sent 22.2.10 and received 24.2.10

The panel was advised of your correspondence and that you were requesting a further postponement. However, it was the view of the NEC Disciplinary Sub-Committee that neither you nor your representative had provided evidence why the Hearing should not proceed.

As a consequence of that decision the panel under Rule I, Schedule D of the Rule Book heard the case by the Union Representative ********* and his witness.

However, the panel decided that given the evidence presented, you should be given a further opportunity to present your case and therefore agreed to reconvene at a further date’

There are currently a number of schools of thought on the delay.

1. It is the right decision.

2. It delays the inevitable sanction

3 It shows a willingness to ‘do the right thing’ and give the opportunity for a fair hearing.

It is difficult to call unless you think it is a complete waste of time, effort and members money which could be better spent organising and recuiting new members. In which case the answer is obvious.

Interestingly the dates for the reconvened hearings are after John has his complaint heard by The Certification Officer, for amongst other things failure to declare John the elected NEC member for the Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Male Seat.

We will wait and see.

Support Alan Docherty

February 18, 2010

Unison gives Alan Docherty a 3 Year Ban whilst he is busy fighting New Labour Cuts

Unison has continued its witch hunt by banning Alan Docherty, Darlington LG’ s Branch Secretary, for 3 years from office. His crime was defending himself from attack from Unison Northern Region’s leadership for his involvement in the NSSN as the Tees Valley Secretary of the NESSN.

This has occurred when Alan is co-ordinating the campaign to resist swinging cuts from his employer, Darlington Borough Council, that intends to cut non- education budgets by 25% over the next three years and to cut immediately low paid, mainly women workers’,  in caring, leisure, and catering jobs, pay by up to 10%, by abolishing premium payments. Alan asked that his disciplinary be postponed until after the current anti-cuts campaign, but his request was ignored. Despite this, the branch has waged an active campaign in the media and encouraging members to attend consultation meetings en masse, to make their views known to the Council. This has had some limited successes so far, particularly a victory saving the Early Years Inclusion Service, and eleven jobs, which gives support to disabled children ages 3 to 5 to help them into nursery schools, which the Council had planned to axe in its entirety.

On Tuesday 16th February over 100 members turned out to a lively demonstration to lobby the Labour Cabinet to drop their plans to cut pay.  This rally, addressed by Unison NEC member Hannah Walter, and Trades Council Secretary, Pat Buttle, was so successful that the leaders of the Labour Group came out of the town hall to enter into a dialogue with the protesters.  Both Hannah and Pat also criticised the Unison leadership for its attack on Alan and praised him as a committed activist.

The complaint that has led to Unison’s sentence to ban Alan from office arises from a year ago when Alan stood for the NEC as a ‘Reclaim Our Union’ candidate against incumbent Paul Thompson. It was Paul Thompson who made the complaint against him, after Alan rang him to ask why he was proposing a motion through Durham County branch seeking punitive action against officers and members of the Shop Stewards Network who he claimed were bringing Unison into disrepute. Alan then circulated the motion to those implicated. This motion was backed unanimously as a statement by Unison’s Northern Regional Committee. No further discussion on this statement was allowed within the union on the basis it contravened confidentiality under disciplinary procedures.  A NEC disciplinary committee upheld the view that Alan broke several rules associated with democratic procedures and had brought the union into disrepute and hence should be removed from office. What type of union puts its career seeking leaders above its membership?

Alan intends to fight this decision.

Demand Unison stops the Witch Hunts, protest to Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison, 1 Mabledon Pace, London, WC1H 9AJ. E-mail

More Stuck Records

February 15, 2010

John received a hand delivered letter today, which is also marked ‘sent by post and recorded delivery’ which says,

‘I acknowledge receipt of you e-mail dated 10 February 2010

I have consulted with members of the Discipinary Sub Committee and the hearing will proceed on 16/17th February 2010.

I reiterate my previous advice regarding your attendance at the hearing’

It looks like UNISON will not be deflected from the course of action despite the absence of the ‘accused’. John, a member who attempted to take up the seat NEC for which he received the greatest vote.

I wonder what would happen if he really did something wrong?

A Stuck Record

February 11, 2010

When a person continues to repeat the same position over and over again without regards to anything being said in response, it shouldn’t be a suprise if they were accused of being a ‘stuck record’.

Well UNISON is well and truly a ‘stuck record’.

Yesterday John received a recorded delivery letter stating,

‘I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail dated 28th Jan which is noted. I refer to my correspondence, dated 4th Jan, 21st Jan and 27th Jan, I reinterate that the Disciplinary Sub Committee will be convening on 16-17th Feb at 9.30am at the Novotel Hotel, Leeds.’

It will be a very short hearing as John cannot attend and his representative is on holiday.

The response is below

‘I have received further notification today that the hearing will go ahead next week without me or my representative.

I have repeatedly requested consultation about the dates of the hearing but there has been no attempt by UNISON to reach agreement. There is absolutely no point repeatedly telling me the hearing will go ahead or ‘strongly advising’ me to attend, I cannot attend and my representative is on holiday.

I have requested lists of the witnesses, copies of the notes of my investigating meeting and members of the panel but UNISON has not provided the information I have requested.

I  did offer dates in March but that has been ignored,

I have also advised UNISON that I believe the main issue is whether or not I was entitled to attend the meeting on 19th June. This matter will be decided by the Certification Officer on 23rd March.

I also believe that if I am subject to any disciplinary sanction that would be unjustified disciplinary action against me. I am alleging that UNISON is in breach of the rules and statue by not allowing me to take up the seat for which I received the greatest vote, this is well documented.

I request the hearing does not take place 16/17th February and UNISON drops any action against me.’

Are UNISONs Disciplinary Procedures Unfair?

January 31, 2010

Serious questions need to be asked about UNISONs Disciplinary Procedures, not only about the use of them to silence the internal dissenting voices of loyal, hardworking and committed activists. But whether or not they stand up to scrutiny as fair, even handed and comply with the rules of natural justice.

John’s case highlights that the current procedures are hard, inflexible and would be challenged by any half decent union rep in a workplace.

It cannot be fair or reasonable that a trade union refuses to consult a member over their availability for a disciplinary investigation or hearing. Workers have to work and therefore have to book leave, swap shifts or otherwise arrange for time off to attend meetings.

It cannot be fair that the member only gets to know what part of the rule book has allegedly been breached at the investigation meeting. Then only find out what the charges are 21 days before a hearing. How is it possible for a worker to be ready in time, a worker who has to work, has a life, possible family , may have a disability, has to construct a defence, arrange witnesses, arrange representative, have holiday booked, the list could go on. But on the other hand a full time official has time allocated to prosecute the case and prepare.

It cannot be fair that  a panel is free to impose any level of punishment, in the case of Caroline Bedale banned from office for 8 years, without any rulebook guidance or reference to the NEC or Conference. This can lead to inconsistancies or vinducative sanctions. Should expulsion automatically be for life? Should there be a ceiling set on a period a member can be banned for office? Surely the sanction should fit the offence not the mood of the panel.

It cannot be fair that members who tell others they are being disciplined  get ‘theatening’ letters. How are they able to search for witnesses, arrange representation and receive support etc. Can you imagine if a worker in a workplace was being disciplined and instructed not to tell anyone? A union rep would be screaming, stitch up, right od expression, right of association!

A link to UNISONS Rule book is on the page next to this posting.

Some possible rule changes to make the process fairer could be,

Rule I


5.4 A member who is under investigation should be advised in writing as soon as practicable that they under investigation, given an outline of the alleged offence and possible rule breaches.

5.5 An investigating officer should attempt to arrange with the member a mutually convenient time and date to conduct the investigatory interview.

These would keep the member informed and able to arrange to meet the investigating officer. In John’s case the investigating officer said ‘he found it difficult to believe ‘ that John wasn’t available and threatened to carry on the investigation without interviewing John. John requested to know what is alleged ‘crime’ was and what were the alleged rule breaches before meeting the investigating officer but this was ignored.

Time Limits

8.7 No period of debarring from office should exceed 3 years, or expulsion should exceed 5 years, unless voted for by a majority vote at National Delegates Conference.

This would apply some accountability to the process, where conference has an input into the severity of the sanction.

A Judge has guidelines about sentencing and a person convicted has rights about how long they have to declare a sentence after they have served the time.

Schedule D

1. Delete ’21 days’ and insert ‘42 days’.

Delete ‘, and shall be told ‘ and insert ‘.Will be consulted about’

After ‘her or him is to be heard’ insert  ‘No dates will be set without attempting to reach agreement about the dates the member and their representative is available. The onus is on both UNISON and the member to be reasonable when attempting to agree hearing dates. Factors to take into account are the members work pattern, ill health, holidays, witness and representatives availability.’

This would require the union to enter into a dialogue about availablity avoiding unnecessary postponements.

It would  give the member longer to prepare, essential if the case is complex

None of these changes would prevent the union taking action against any member or issuing a sanction.

A further refusal to change dates of hearing.

January 28, 2010

Today John received a letter, via e-mail, from UNISON responding to his request to hear the charges in March, rather than February when he is working and his representative is on holiday.

The full text of John’s e-mail request and the response letter is on a page at the side of this post.

In essence it is a further refusal to arrange the hearing at a date that John and his representative can make and an ‘instruction’ to stop telling people about his disciplinary!

Perhaps UNISON doesn’t want people to know about the disciplinary because it is ludicrous or perhaps secrecy is the ‘witch hunters’ best weapon?

UNISON Disciplinary Hearing

January 24, 2010

UNISON is planning to hold a disciplinary hearing on 16/17th February in Leeds .

The invite letter and charges are listed on the pages on the side of this website.

The purpose is to hear 5 charges against John because of his attempt to take up the NEC Seat for which  he received the greatest vote on 19th June 2009.John has advised UNISON he is not available because of work and his representative is on holiday, dates have been offered in March but these have been ignored.

It appears to John and his supporters that the main issue is whether or not John was eligible to attend an NEC meeting and this will be decided by the Certification Officer on 23rd March. Requests have been made to postpone any hearing until after a ruling is made, these have been ignored

Is John is the next lefty activist UNISON have decided to get rid of?

Defend Democracy in UNISON End The Witchunts

January 23, 2010

Imagine this,

  • You are a UNISON member for 28 years.
  • You are a member of the National Executive Council
  • You are a member of the Local Government Service Group Executive.
  • You lose your job.
  • Prior to losing your job you register with an Employment Agency.
  • Your Branch retains you as a full member as allowed in the rules.
  • Region intervenes and takes your full membership away.
  • The President, who claims it’s a Regional decision, throws you off the NEC.
  • Region prevents you standing as a Branch Publicity Officer.
  • You gain employment.
  • UNISON writes to Electoral Ballot Services after the ballot closes causing you to be withdrawn as a candidate in the NEC elections.
  • You receive the greatest vote for the Regional Male Seat but are prevented from taking up that seat.
  • You are eligible to hold office
  • You are then face being disciplined for attempting to take up the seat UNISON members voted for you to hold.

This is the unbelievable treatment of John and members by UNISON Officials.

John McDermott

Many UNISON members know John as a trade union activist fighting hard on behalf of members against attacks from employers and against privatisation, particularly in Education and Housing.

When necessary John has also been critical of UNISON’s link to the Labour Party and policies and decisions that he believed were not in the members interests.

John has represented UNISON members in Yorkshire and Humberside for 6 years at a national level. John argued and voted against calling off action to defend pensions, proposed coordinated action to defend against Single Status pay cuts and has consistently voted for action in support of decent pay rises.


UNISON members in Yorkshire and Humberside who voted for John in the 2009 NEC elections have had their democratic will ignored.

John was an eligible candidate for the election and was eligible to hold office when the ballot result was announced.

John has launched an 8-point complaint with the Certification Officer claiming UNISON is in breach of Rules and Statute.

The complaint relates to John’s removal from office, preventing from standing for office and failing to declare John the elected NEC member despite securing the greatest number of votes. John has also complained that the number of NEC Seats for Yorkshire and Humberside is not in line with the rulebook.

A motion to Regional Council to discuss the situation has been ruled out of order because John has complained and UNISON is taking disciplinary action.

Disciplinary Action

John is now subject to Disciplinary action by UNISON for attempting to take up the NEC Seat to which he was elected.

A disciplinary hearing will go ahead on 16th and 17th February despite John not being able to attend because of work commitments. 5 requests have been made to negotiate dates for the hearing and John has offered dates in March but these have been ignored.

Witch Hunt

The attack on John, and the democratic will of the membership, is further example of UNISON misusing the disciplinary rules to silence internal political opposition.

Caroline Bedale has been banned from office for 8 years for supporting Karen Reismann the sacked nurse,

Glenn Kelly and three others, banned from office for up to 5 years for critising standing orders at conference.

Yunus Bakhsh, expelled.

Tony Staunton, expelled.

The list gets longer every year as UNISON focuses on attacking left wing activists rather than expelling BNP members.

What You Can Do.

E-mail Dave Prentis and Cliff Williams to complain,

E-mail John to offer support and receive regular updates.


Raise the issue in your branch.