By Kate Ahrens
(Leicestershire Health UNISON, personal capacity)
Candy Udwin and Dave Carr, Unison activists and SWP members, have been expelled from the union. The two were branch officers in the University of London Hospitals (UCLH) branch of the union and were finally expelled following a lengthy appeals process on charges relating to a leaflet that they produced during the dispute at the hospital over PFI.
Although the decision of the original hearing four years ago was to expel them, they had remained members of the union throughout the appeal process. During that time, Dave Prentis was elected as General Secretary and he had signalled his intention to put an end to the witch hunt of political activists inside the union. Dave and Candy had been informally offered a compromise deal of a ban from holding office, which they had turned down. They were expecting that, even if the final appeal went against them, a three to five year ban from holding office would be the outcome.
The decision to expel the pair does not appear to be a general resurgence of the witch hunt inside UNISON. It may well be a vindictive last swipe on the part of disgruntled bureaucrats. Its also conveniently timed to draw some energy (and some key potential candidates) away from the left's campaign in the upcoming NEC elctions. The left is still expected to make big gains in these elections.
There are plenty of people in the apparatus of the union who would delight in relaunching the witch-hunt however. This is a clear indication of how easy it would be, and how little the personnel at the centre of the union has changed, even given Dave Prentis's election promises to end the sectarian atmosphere inside the union.
UNISON members should be protesting in the strongest terms about the obviously politically motivated decision to expel Candy and Dave. Send messages of condemnation to Dave Prentis, UNISON, Mabledon Place, London.