Hicks joins anti-Unite witch-hunt

November 10, 2013 at 9:19 am (Champagne Charlie, mccarthyism, Murdoch, strange situations, SWP, Tory scum, unions, Unite the union)

According to the front page of today’s Sunday Times

THE boss of Britain’s biggest union, involved in a vote-rigging inquiry in Falkirk, faces investigation over alleged irregularities in his own election.

“The allegations over the election of Len McCluskey as general secretary of the Unite union centre on claims that almost 160,000 of those balloted were not members.

“His rival for the job, Jerry Hicks, has complained that the election was unlawful because people who had left the union were included in the ballot. Hicks said dead former members were among those who were sent voting papers.

“The Certification Office — the union regulator, which has the power to order McCluskey’s election to be rerun — confirmed this weekend that it has launched an investigation. An official complaint is expected to be submitted to Unite in the next few weeks.

“Hicks said this weekend: ‘Was Falkirk an aberration or a modus operandi?’ There are serious questions that need to be answered about these tens of thousands of non-members of the union who were sent ballot papers.”

So it appears that the SWP-supported Hicks (who lost the last general secretary election to McCluskey by 80,000 votes earlier this year) has not only reported the union to the Certification Officer, but is now co-operating with the Murdoch press (and so, with the Tories and Blairites) in the witch-hunt against Unite in the wake of Falkirk and Grangemouth.

By the way, I’d put money on the fact that if there were any significant membership irregularities at the time of the general secretary election, they came from the old Amicus side of the merged union – precisely the constituency Hicks was appealing to in his campaign.

But for now, Mr Hicks has some ‘serious questions that need answering’ – like what the hell does he think he’s doing going to the Certification Officer and the Murdoch press instead of raising any legitimate concerns he might have within the union itself? Unite under McCluskey has many faults, but it is a relatively open and democratic organisation, where any such concerns would be taken seriously and investigated. But it would appear that Mr Hicks is more interested in attacking McCluskey, even by means of joining in the right-wing witch-hunt against the union itself.

There’s a name for people who do that. It’s “scab.”

P.S: As Anne Field and Andrew Coates note in BTL comments below, Hicks seems very proud of his coverage in the Murdoch press: http://www.jerryhicks4gs.org/

13 Comments

  1. Mike Killingworth said,

    Nice try. But scabbing relates to the conduct of industrial disputes, not union elections.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Scabbing can also be political: eg joining in an anti-union witch-hunt, which is exactly what Hicks has done.

  2. Hicks joins anti-Unite witch-hunt | OzHouse said,

    […] Nov 10 2013 by admin […]

  3. Andrew Coates said,

    Hicks spoke at an anti-cuts Cambridge Rally in the Corn Exchange a few years ago.

    It was if he was addressing an audience of thousands, and not short on bombast.

    Is there no limit to the vanity of the man?

  4. Anne Field said,

    I wrote this before seeing the Shiraz piece, covering much the same ground:

    Another Sunday. Another issue of the “Sunday Times”. Another attack on Unite (on pages 1, 4, 16, 17 and 33).

    But this time Jerry Hicks – the founder, leader and mouthpiece of the “Grass Roots Left” in Unite – has given a helping hand. According to the front-page article:

    “Hicks said this weekend: ‘Was Falkirk an aberration or a modus operandi? There are serious questions that need to be answered about these tens of thousands of non-members of the union who were sent ballot papers.’”

    The reference to “tens of thousands of non-members” receiving ballot papers relates to Hick’s complaint to the Certification Officer , alleging that in the Unite general secretary election held earlier this year 160,000 ballot papers were sent to former members not entitled to vote.

    Unite’s response is that the members’ subscriptions had lapsed but they were still entitled to vote. Under rule 4.1 of the union’s rulebook members can be up to 26 weeks in arrears before being removed from the membership lists.

    “Hicks says that it is not credible that nearly 160,000 members were in recent arrears of membership,” continues the “Sunday Times” article. But in a union with 1.4 million members it is entirely credible. Annual membership turnover in a union is 25%.

    (See para. 9 of the recent government report: “Amendment to the TULRCA 1992: Trade Unions’ Registers of Members: Impact Assessment”.)

    But the issue here is not – yet another – complaint by Hicks to the Certification Officer. It is his statement: “Was Falkirk an aberration or a modus operandi?”

    The starting point for that statement can only be that Unite committed vote-rigging abuses in recruiting its members to the Labour Party in Falkirk. The sole question for Hicks is whether it was “an aberration or a modus operandi.”

    This was no slip of the tongue by Hicks. In an earlier statement about Grangemouth Hicks wrote on his website of Unite’s “infantile, unfunny comic capers of infiltration through recruiting members to the Labour Party.”

    Hicks’ line of argument is: Unite engaged in vote-rigging in Falkirk – isn’t it credible, therefore, that it engaged in the same malpractices in this year’s general secretary elections?

    In fact, one of the comments on Hicks’ website is much more straightforward and makes explicit was Hicks merely insinuates:

    “An investigation should have been launched to establish who in Unite cheated which resulted in McCluskey winning. Another investigation should be launched by the police into data protection issues over the use of Unite membership lists.”

    (Clearly, one must assume that Hicks and his supporters were 100% supportive of Labour Party officials handing over the dodgy ‘Falkirk dossier’ to the police.)

    Hicks is very proud of the “Sunday Times” coverage of his complaint to the Certification Officer. On his website he boasts:

    “Jerry Hlcks (sic) challenge to validity of Unite General Secretary election makes ‘Sunday Times’ front page. The ‘Sunday Times’ (01/11/13) (sic) front page article ‘Union Boss Len McCluskey Elected by Phantoms’ carries my complaint to the Certification Officer.”

    Hicks is either too thick or too callous, to be quite blunt about it, not to recognise that the ‘Sunday Times’ front page article is nothing but another vicious witch-hunting attack on Unite, drawing parallels between supposed malpractices in Falkirk and supposed malpractices in Len McCluskey’s re-election.

    It is also another disgraceful attack on Stevie Deans. The article makes a ‘linkage’ of Stevie-Deans-Unite-convenor (nearly lost everyone their jobs), Stevie-Deans-Falkirk-Labour–chair (vote-rigging) and Stevie-Deans-election-campaigner-for-McCluskey (vote-rigging).

    Solidarity with his own union in the face of this witch-hunt? Solidarity with a fellow union member who has been hounded out of his job and his union and Labour Party positions?

    Of such solidarity there is not a word in Hicks’ piece. Instead, narcissism trumps solidarity. “The media are responding to our (sic – should read: my) press release of 9th September,” claims Hicks.

    No. The ‘Sunday Times’ was not responding on 10th November to a press release issued by Hicks on 9th September. It was engaged in an ongoing witch-hunt.

    And Hicks’ complaint to the Certification Officer, backed up by Hicks’ allegations about Unite’s role in Falkirk Labour Party, was just another ‘peg’ on which to hang the ongoing witch-hunt.

    If there is hard evidence of vote-rigging in this year’s Unite general secretary elections, Hicks is perfectly entitled to raise it. Socialists would defend him for doing so, even if the right-wing media were to exploit such a complaint for its own ends.

    But that is not the case here.

    Hicks is endorsing gutter-level accusations about vote-rigging by Unite in Falkirk Labour Party in order to try to lend some credibility to allegations about vote-rigging in the Unite general secretary elections.

    The “Sunday Times” picks up on these allegations. In three articles on five pages it attacks Unite and its links to the Labour Party. Hicks’ response is not to condemn the witch-hunt but to say: “Hey look, they’re talking about me!”

    (Footnote: Hicks makes allegations about Unite’s recruitment practices in Falkirk Labour Party and about non-members of Unite being given a vote in the general secretary elections.

    But according to Hicks’ website, the Grass Roots left national conference, held the day before the appearance of the “Sunday Times” article, was open to “members of Unite the union, their families and friends.”)

    ANNE FIELD

    • Andrew Coates said,

      Hicks and his mates have been crowing at their scabbing success on Facebook.

      I have just unfriended Hicks.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    The SWP and the rest (Soc Resistance, Wankers Power CPGB) must never be allowed to forget this:

    http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/30212/Why+were+supporting+Jerry+Hicks:

  6. Pinkie said,

    “The SWP and the rest (Soc Resistance, Wankers Power CPGB) must never be allowed to forget this:…….”

    Blimey! ‘Never’ is rather a long time.

    • Ross Harper said,

      Well, just fancy that!

      Enter Jerry Hicks, stage right, furiously backpedalling.

      It’s all been a terrible mistake, he now claims in a new post on his website. See: http://www.jerryhicks4gs.org/

      He has made no linkage, he says between events in Falkirk and his complaint to the Certification Officer. Good heavens, no!

      And brother Hicks piously stresses that he is “opposed to any attempt to use my complaint in any witch hunt against my union.” Good to hear it, Jerry!

      Mind you, there’s still a few things that Hicks needs to explain:

      1) The article which he posted on his website this morning made NO criticism of the ‘Sunday Times’ article. So why did he not say this morning what he is saying now? Could it be that he is saying it only now because of the flak he’s received, because of people ‘unfriending’ him, and because of the nasty things that have been written about him?

      2) Hicks does not deny having said “Was Falkirk an aberration or a modus operandi?” This quote is, in any case, entirely consistent with what he has said elsewhere on his website about Falkirk, i.e. that Unite was engaged in “infiltration” of Falkirk Labour Party.

      3) Hicks says that he has made no linkage between events in Falkirk and his complaint to the Certification Officer. Problem, for him, is that he claims that Unite was involved in “infiltration” in Falkirk (which the average person would consider to be vote-rigging) and that people who were not members of Unite received ballot papers during the general secretary election earlier this year, presumably in order to help Len McCluskey win (which the average person would consider to be vote-rigging). So it’s pretty pathetic for Hicks to claim that he is making no linkage between the two.

      4) Hicks does not deny having said what the ‘Sunday Times’ says that he said. Let us be charitable and suppose that the ‘Sunday Times’ has run two different statements together from Hicks into a single quote. But what did Hicks think the ‘Sunday Times’ was going to do? And this is someone who wants to be a union general secretary (where you need to know how to deal with the media)!

      5) Hicks now writes: “I am opposed to any attempt to use my complaint in any witch hunt against my union.” But what about his allegation of “infiltration” into Falkirk Labour Party (and his rhetorical question about whether it was a one-off or established practice)? How can such allegations be used for anything other than a witch-hunt against Unite?

      6) Even now Hicks cannot bring himself to utter a single word of support for Stevie Deans (although I very much doubt that Stevie would welcome support from such a source).

      The next time Hicks throws his hat into the ring in another general secretary election, Unite members should remember this scurrilous fiasco.

      • bombasticspastic said,

        Ross, what do you mean by “The next time Hicks throws his hat into the ring in another general secretary election, Unite members should remember this scurrilous fiasco.”? Hicks is permanently on GS election alert. He’s been in this state since 2007 when he began his campaign against Simpson.

  7. Ian said,

    Ann writes “Unite’s response is that the members’ subscriptions had lapsed but they were still entitled to vote. Under rule 4.1 of the union’s rulebook members can be up to 26 weeks in arrears before being removed from the membership lists.”

    I suppose if Unite hadnt had let these members in arrears according to rule, vote, JH would have complained to the certification officer and written his ill thought out press release about that.

  8. bazfunite said,

    Hicks and his rag tag bunch are either stupid with no understanding of cause and effect, right wingers, agents of the state intent on damaging the movement or perhaps all three! They seem to have no concept of the damage they do and in the recent election everyone I knew who voted for this idiot was a right winger exercising a protest vote against Lenny as they don’t like his left policies or they’d lost their place on a gravy train via branch restructuring

  9. jimmy glesga said,

    Ye auld Tory press have the left at each others throats as usual. Position normal.

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