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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 November 2008

Unison leadership takeover Newham branch

Earlier this month, members of Unison's Newham local government branch were informed that the national executive (NEC) of the union had told the regional full-time staff to take over the running of their branch.

There were said to have been problems with the branch over new branch rules, industrial relations issues with the employer, Newham Council, issues about the way the branch was run and also problems between the Newham branch and other parts of the union.

It seems a shame that the NEC members concerned with this decision did not visit Newham and address a general meeting of members to explain exactly what in their view was wrong and to hear views of Newham members. After all, in all other contexts, the NEC seems to prefer negotiations to pre-emptive action.

Such a meeting would also have been an opportunity for rank and file members to raise directly with those running the union the results of the "Grand Old Duke of York" strategy as applied in recent years to most national negotiations over pay and pensions!

It also seems that branch members had no opportunity to discuss proposed changes to their own branch rules, prior to these having been approved by other union committees and being put to a ballot.

According to the Unison diary, Newham branch has two NEC members. Newham members will no doubt think they are entitled to see any NEC minutes giving the detailed reasons and evidence as to why it has proved necessary to take over the branch. Particularly as this is happening so soon after this summer's election (via the Electoral Reform Society) of new branch officers, following the sacking by the employer of previous branch chair Michael Gavan.

A Unison member

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