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 National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) as the Tees Valley Secretary of the NESSN (North East Shop Stewards Network).
This has occurred when Alan is co-ordinating the campaign to resist swinging cuts from his employer, Darlington Borough Council, which 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.