Public sector union Unison stepped up its campaigning activity last month. Defending public services from privatisation and job cuts? No. Mobilising against hospital closures? No. Once again, the union’s resources were being ploughed into its seemingly inexhaustible campaign against four members of the Socialist Party.
In 2007, the SP put out a bland leaflet criticising the Standing Orders Committee at National Conference. Frustrated at the removal of a third of all motions from the agenda, the leaflet compared the SOC to the three wise monkeys – “see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil”.
Despite the fact that 95% of SOC members are bald, white and male, this bureaucratic bastion pressed charges of racial abuse. For the past three years these activists have been dragged through the unions’ kangaroo courts, kicked out of office and banned from holding a post in the union for up to five years.
The SP appealed to various bourgeois courts (a tactic we don’t agree with). Those appeals have been unsuccessful. However the process revealed that Unison have been running training courses for their (unelected) full time officials teaching them how to “deal with the problem of Trotskyite activists”.
Last month the bureaucracy organised dawn raids of the local offices where “the Four” are based. Unelected full-time officials now look poised for coup d’etats in the Greenwich, Hackney, Bromley and Housing Association branches
This whole sorry business points to a putrid rot within Unison. An enormous deficit of member involvement allows the bureaucracy to play Stalinist games with left activists.
It allows them to take control of branches and turn them into lifeless rumps.
It allows them to intimidate honest worker-activists and prevent them organising a real fight against management. The lack of involvement in the union runs so deep that Socialist Party tactic of appealing to the capitalist law courts appears more “realistic” than a militant campaign by rank-and-file members to defend and extend democracy in the union.