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  • John Gray

Why we walked out of UNISON Community Conference?


A week ago there was a walkout of UNISON delegates and Service Group Executive members from our annual Community conference, which was being held in Glasgow. This has never happened before in Community.


This was an unplanned and spontaneous walk out since we had no idea until the last minute, that an imposter, pretending to be the lay President of UNISON, Paul Holmes, was going to chair our conference. Despite the fact he has recently been dismissed by his employer, following bullying and harassment allegations by 14 (yes 14) female UNISON members (and also by at least one male who was threatened with violence).


Not only has Paul Holmes been dismissed by his employer for bullying and harassing women but the current majority Group on the UNISON NEC have decided that they will "change" long established union rules to allow him to be our lay President, despite being unemployed, and therefore not eligible under rule to hold office.


The NEC has no right to change our rules to support men accused of such bullying and harassment. Only our annual National Delegate Conference can change such rules.


Paul Holmes has also recently lost an employment tribunal case for what is called "interim relief", which means the courts think it is likely he was fairly dismissed for abusing all these women.


We are a relatively small UNISON Service Group with only 60 delegates representing some 60,000 members. We also had visitors and members of the Service Group Executive.


I think around 25 members walked out including a former Female UNISON President, members of the Service Group Executive, delegates and visitors. Far more would have walked out if we had known in advance about this outrage.


Since then I have been contacted by UNISON members from all over the UK horrified that a man dismissed for abusing so many women can be allowed to hold office. They want him to be at least suspended until there is a proper investigation and process by UNISON into the allegations.


Otherwise it seems UNISON is saying to our 1 million plus female members, that no matter what you say, or how many say it, we won't believe you if you say it about one of our male NEC favourites.

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