Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 December 2015

Unison general secretary election in crisis

Neil Cafferky

The Unison general secretary election, and the union itself, were thrown into disarray last week with the release of a secret recording of a meeting of the London regional staff. In the meeting, held on 21 October, regional secretary Linda Perks can be heard organising staff to campaign for general secretary Dave Prentis.

Under Unison rules, the use of union resources by any candidate to promote their campaign is strictly forbidden. This includes any paid employee of Unison campaigning on behalf of a candidate.

To understand the seriousness of what this recording alleges, it would be like David Cameron and the Tories using civil servants to campaign for them as part of their paid employment during a general election.

Serious rules broken

Speaking about the nomination process which had just concluded, Linda Perks congratulated staff members for securing Prentis nominations in the London region: "We have got almost 50 nominations here so that is excellent and thank you very much, Dave is very pleased and has asked me to relate this to you personally."

At the very least, the general secretary was aware of serious rule breaking occurring in the London region in support of his campaign.

The response from activists has been swift. Complaints to Unison president Wendy Nichols have flooded in from across the union.

As a result an investigation has begun, headed up by assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie. Linda Perks, a key figure in the high profile witch-hunt against four Socialist Party activists in the London region, has been relieved of her duties while the investigation takes place.

However, doubts remain about the appropriateness of Roger McKenzie as assistant general secretary, in effect investigating his boss, general secretary Dave Prentis.

Speaking to the Socialist, Unison general secretary candidate Roger Bannister said:

"It is clear the complaint is against the general secretary, among others. I do not believe that it is appropriate that Roger McKenzie investigates this complaint.

"This is not a criticism of Roger's integrity or competence. It is simply that as an assistant general secretary Roger is in a subordinate position to the general secretary, and any findings he makes will inevitably be judged in this light.


"I have asked Unison to end the current investigation in favour of one conducted by a reputable, competent person, from outside the union and one agreed by all candidates in order to demonstrate neutrality and even-handedness."

Roger Bannister and Socialist Party members in Unison have also submitted complaints to the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), the body that oversees the election. However, some Unison activists privately raise concerns about the neutrality of the ERS Returning Officer following a recent ruling where the Prentis team were breaking procedures.

Given that Dave Prentis is clearly implicated in this scandal Unison activists are calling for him to stand aside during the investigation. A lobby of the Unison NEC will take place on 9 December with this demand.

A mass campaign among the membership will be necessary to bring to light rule breaking within the union. Alongside this, all avenues of investigation should be explored, including a complaint to the trade union certification officer.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 9 December 2015:

What we think

How can Corbyn and the left win in the Labour Party?

International Brigades fought against capitalism, not for

Socialist Party news and analysis

Defending the right to deselect warmongers

Young people accused of extremism

Rail fares and profits rise as service suffers

Tax-dodging drug firm shuts research facility

Them & Us

Quiz of the year

International socialist news and analysis

French elections - Le Pen's far-right FN surges

Venezuela elections

Northern Ireland: movement needed for abortion rights

Ireland - defend the Jobstown protesters

Sweden - public housing victory

Belgium - party congress success

Socialist Party feature

Floods reveal effect of government cuts

Carlisle - lives and livelihoods devastated

Capitalism's climate change policy failure

War and terrorism

A week of anti-war campaigning in Walthamstow

Workplace news and analysis

Interview with new RMT president

Unison general secretary election in crisis

Trade unions must join the fight for steel nationalisation

Strike in support of suspended headteacher

NSSN action in the North East

Workplace news in brief

Readers' comments and reviews

Eleanor Marx: A life of struggle, solidarity and socialism

Socialist readers' comments and reviews

TV review: Tomorrow's Food


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Fight to save our NHS

Thousands march around the country against the bombing of Syria

Confronting the far right in Derby

Subs campaign: have you increased yours yet?

North West fighting fund week of action!

The Socialist Christmas schedule

Socialist Party national committee meeting


Home   |   The Socialist 9 December 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleTrade union activists from across the south of England discuss the battle for safety on the frontline

triangleElectricians pay victory

triangleBig Unison south east regional meeting votes for anti-cuts position

triangleLambeth Unison letter

triangleMake a stand: set legal no-cuts council budgets


triangleSabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed

triangleLabour leadership election: Starmer wins but the fight for socialism goes on

triangleEnd of the Corbyn era - Organise to fight for socialist policies

triangleEnd of the Corbyn era


triangleUnited action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan

triangleStrong union response needed against job cuts

triangleOrganising to fight for workplace safety

Dave Prentis:

triangleReverse Unison's undemocratic nomination of Blairite Starmer

triangleCentral task is to force general election and elect Corbyn-led Labour government on socialist policies

Roger Bannister:

triangleCharity workers' strike

Trade union:

triangleWest Midlands trade union activists discuss the battle for safety on the front line


triangleBirmingham Uni: Standing up to racism is not harassment!

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



United action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan



Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality



Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety



Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19



Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism



Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces



Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside



Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts



Transport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price



Pandemic shortages caused by capitalist market - socialist planning is the alternative



Tories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety



Stay alert to bosses putting profit before safety



Furlough scheme extended - workers need 100% of wages



Dispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS


Welsh Government

Social partnership is an attempt to shackle trade unions and prevent industrial action

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020