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Jerry Hicks complaint against Unite thrown out

HicksFar left challenger to Len McCluskey in last year’s election for Unite general Secretary, Jerry Hicks, has lost his formal legal challenge to the Government’s Certification Officer. Having lost by144,570 votes to 79,819 in spite of backing from sections of the Right and every disgruntled member, his objection has finally been thrown out after a year of investigation and several hearings this month.

Many UNITE members were shocked and disgusted that Jerry Hicks took his own union to court on spurious charges (using the machinery brought in by Thatcher’s government to regulate trade unions) following the General Secretary election last year. His complaint of so-called “phantom votes” was based on the inclusion in the ballot of a number of members in arrears with their contributions (he claimed 160,000). However UNITE was following the practice as decided in previousCertification Officer hearings,  namely that members in arrears cannot be denied a vote if they have not been contacted  by their union and asked if they wish to remain a member and resume contributions.  

Jerry Hicks further inflamed opinions amongst UNITE’S membership by trailing his complaints in the columns of newspapers often hostile to trade unions,  notably Murdoch’s Sunday TimesA spokesperson for UNITE reflected the frustrations shared across all levels of the union when he stated yesterday:

UNITE’s members have had to endure repeated – and as we are now clear, baseless – smears against their union.  With this decision our union’s integrity is upheld,  and our focus on the vital task of standing up for working people can continue”

The official statement read:

Unite was always confident that we had acted within the rules of our union and the law at all times.

We are pleased that the certification officer has dismissed the key claims against Unite and we hope that media who gave such credence to claims of `phantom votes’ will now give this legal decision comparable attention.

Unite’s members have had to endure repeated – and as we now are clear, baseless – smears against their union. With this decision our union’s integrity is upheld, and our focus on the vital task of standing up for working people can continue.”

3 Comments

  1. David Osland says:

    This case should never have been brought in the first place. The responsibility for the damage it has caused lies with Hicks and his political associates.

  2. Dave Roberts. says:

    Was he SWP, I know it was all a bit murky what happened?

  3. James Martin says:

    Unite does appear to have a very big problem with its apparent inability to data-cleanse membership lists each year to take account of those no longer paying subs. I was in Unite in my previous job, but joined GMB as the relevant staff union for my current one 4 years ago and stopped paying Unite subs. However, I still regularly get sent ballot papers – including for the leadership election that Hicks took action on (so he does have a valid argument), and this is despite a number of phone calls from them asking why I no longer pay subs (and each time I tell them it is because I’m now in GMB, but still it carries on).

    In fact I’ve never known a union like it for that type of admin incompetence – but I suspect it is more cock-up than conspiracy.

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