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Friday, 1 June 2018

What is UNISON for if it doesn't defend its own members? Stan Keable - abandoned by Steve Terry, the union’s London Regional Officer


For criticising Terry, right-wing Labour Councillor for Walthamstow, I am facing disciplinary action and expulsion

Cllr Steve Terry - London Regional Organiser & Progress supporter

I am informed of Steve Terry's complaint that I publicised his abysmal failure to support a member

The real question of course is why Terry is not being disciplined for refusing to support Stan Keable, a member sacked for going on a demonstration and expressing his views about Zionism. 
Terry's Advice to Stan Keable beg for forgiveness
No one is asking Steve Terry to be an anti-Zionist. All he has to do is support the right of UNISON members to freedom of speech and the right of assembly without being victimised.  Not only are these basic to any concept of workers’ rights they happen to be enshrined in Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  Yet it would appear that this document is too radical for Terry and it would seem UNISON too. 
Following his dismissal Stan wrote again to UNISON, making a complaint against Terry and asking for a legal opinion as to his situation and for representation by another officer.  In return Beth Bickerstaffe, Director of the Executive Office replied thus:
On 29 May 2018, at 12:04, Bickerstaffe, Beth wrote:

Dear Mr Keable,

As mentioned in my previous correspondence I have passed your complaint about Mr Terry to the Regional Secretary in accordance with the union’s complaints procedure.

You were provided with advice and offered representation by UNISON but you did not agree with the advice, decided not to accept it and appointed a different representative to Mr Terry. This is a choice that you are free to make.  However, the union’s rules are clear that in those circumstances it will withdraw from acting for you. This was made clear to you when Mr Terry wrote to you.

The union does not generally seek legal advice from solicitors in relation to disciplinary matters because Regional Organisers use their knowledge and experience to advise our members about the best way to deal with disciplinary issues. 

Given that you decided both to take a different route from the one advised and appointed an external representative the union has made it clear to you that it is unable to act for you and it will not therefore be seeking legal advice about your dismissal.

Yours sincerely,

Beth

Beth Bickerstaffe
Director of the Executive Office

It is true that in response to being charged with attending a demonstration and giving ‘offence’ to Zionists, Terry offered his ‘advice’, which was to plead guilty and fall on the mercy of the Council officers.  Terry, who is also a right-wing Labour Councillor for Walthamstow, even offered to be a ‘silent representative’ thus signalling to the disciplinary panel that UNISON did not support him.
If Stan had taken Terry’s advice then any application to an Employment Tribunal would have been sunk by accepting he was in the wrong. Unsurprisingly Stan rejected Terry's advice and asked me to represent him.
The message from the Zionist 'anti-racist' demonstration was clear - Corbyn was anti-semitic
Stan Keable, who is Secretary of Labour Against the Witchhunt and an employee of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, went on the Jewish Voice for Labour demonstration on March 26th outside Parliament.  The demonstration was in opposition to the racist anti-Corbyn demonstration called by various Zionist groups which included Sajid Javid, Chuka Ummuna, various right-wing Labour MPs, Norman Tebbit and the anti-abortion anti-Catholic homophobes of the DUP. It was a demonstration whose main slogan was ‘Jeremy Corbyn is a racist’.
David Grossman - BBC Newsnight's skunk of a journalist
Stan got into a discussion with a Zionist demonstrator and expressed the view that the Zionists and the Nazis collaborated in Germany.  This was picked up by a BBC David Grossman, a yellow journalist who wouldn’t have been out of place informing for the Stasi.  What was a private conversation was tweeted and hey presto, after a letter from Tory Minister Greg Hands, Stan was suspended.  The details can be found here and here.
The charges against Stan Keable
The charges Stan has been dismissed for are a threat to the rights and civil liberties of every Council employee.  Ludicrous though they are Stan was accused of committing an offence because by attending a demonstration he ‘knowingly increased the possibility of being challenged about your views’  Even worse he ‘subsequently proceeded to express views that were in breach of the Council’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Policy and the Council’s Code of Conduct (‘Working with integrity’ and ‘Working with the media’).’
The latter charge is a load of nonsense and is based on the idea that anti-Zionism is in conflict with the Council’s Equality Policy.
Fortunately a position has come up that Stan can apply 4 - Parliamentary Assistant to Luciana Berger MP
Terry clearly faced a conflict of interest between his UNISON role and his right-wing political views. clear that Terry is on the right of the Labour movement as evidenced by the fact that he is on Progress's speaking list! Instead of standing aside and letting someone else in UNISON take over, Terry deliberately proved obstructive.For example he instructed the Secretary of the local UNISON branch to have nothing to do with me.
One might have thought Stan was arguing for the racial inferiority of Black people judging by the references to the Council’s Equality policy.  The second charge followed on from the first.  Stan ‘made inappropriate comments which were subsequently circulated on social media which are deemed to be insensitive’.
Although Terry is probably too dim to understand this, the right to be offensive is an integral part of free speech as I'm demonstrating right now!  
I therefore criticised Terry on my blog and subsequently in an article in Weekly Worker, No criticism permitted.  The result is that Terry has made a complaint against me and I am facing a disciplinary panel next week.  It is clear from the correspondence so far that their main, indeed only concern is the rights of full-time officials.  The rights of members comes a distant second.
Why have I spoken out despite being told that the matter is ‘confidential’?  Because if it is confidential it is personal to me but I do not accept that.  Making sure the union supports its members is relevant to all UNISON members.
The duty of all UNISON officers is, or should be, to their members.  Ideally they should be elected as was the case in the old AUEW engineering union.  In UNISON regional officials act like union barons who think that the members owe them a living.  There is therefore no accountability and that is why unions like UNISON repeatedly sell out their members pay and conditions.  As local government cuts have taken their toll over the past decade, UNISON has stood by immobile, refusing to do anything.  When there have been strikes Dave Prentis and the union bureaucracy have exerted themselves to have the actions called off as soon as possible. The Tories have been able to take the axe to local government knowing that UNISON would do no more than put up a verbal protest.
As JLM Councillor Adam Langleben was complaining abut the defeat that he himself had brought about, with the false accusations of 'antisemitism' Dave Prentis tweeted his support for his false allegations
On Palestine UNISON has good policy. I should know as I spoke in favour of the successful BDS motion as the delegate from Brighton and Hove in 2007 and 2008.  Unfortunately it doesn’t do a great deal about that policy.  Worse still, it has no understanding of Zionism, the motivating ideology and movement behind the racism of the Israeli state. This is why UNISON representatives on Labour’s NEC have acted on the basis that there is some substance in the allegations of Labour anti-Semitism.  For example when Adam Langleben of the Jewish Labour Movement lost his seat in Hendon West because he had been so successful in spreading the lie that Labour is anti-Semitic, Dave Prentice offered him his support in his defeat.
This case is really about the belief that the views of Stan, just like those of Ken Livingstone, that Zionism collaborated with the Nazis, is anti-Semitic.  UNISON is therefore aiding the false ‘anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt whose purpose is the removal of Jeremy Corbyn.
I will face an investigation next Monday and I have no doubt that I will be found guilty of having broken the rules by upsetting and offending Steve Terry, by challenging his refusal to do what he is paid to do, that is support a member under attack.  I can’t say that I feel particularly repentant!
Tony Greenstein
Original Letter of Complaint

From: Stan Keable [mailto:keablestan@icloud.com] 
Sent:
 23 May 2018 18:50
To:
 Bickerstaffe, Beth
Subject:
 Unison Case Number 0132153 - Complaint, Legal opinion, Representation

Unison Case Number 0132153 - Complaint, Legal opinion, Representation

Wed May 23rd 2018

Beth Bickerstaffe, 
Unison, Director of the Executive Office

Dear Ms Bickerstaffe,
Unison Case Number 0132153: (a) Complaint and (b) Request for a legal opinion                 and (c) Request for representation
(a) Complaint against London Regional Organiser, Steve Terry
I am writing to make a formal complaint against Steve Terry for failing to support me in my recent disciplinary procedure, and in particular for failing to obtain a legal opinion on my case prior to my May 10 disciplinary hearing, which I requested urgently in my May 1st email to him. 

In my May 1st email, I noted the gravity of the case for all Unison members, because Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s proposal to dismiss me for “attending a political demonstration and expressing my anti-Zionist political views” would be “discrimination” [under the Equality Act 2010], would not only infringe my rights, but would also “deny the human rights of all Unison members to engage in demonstrations and political campaigning”. 

At my case meeting with Steve Terry on April 27th, he made it clear that he did not support my case: that I should plead guilty as charged; that I should not have attended the March 26 demonstration; that I should apologise for the political views I expressed; and that I should promise not to attend controversial demonstrations and should avoid expressing my political views in future. 

He also gave me an ultimatum if I did not follow his bad advice: either Unison support would be withdrawn forthwith, or he was willing to attend my disciplinary hearing as asilent Unison rep while I presented my own case - which obviously would have shown the employer that Unison did not support my case. In my May 1st email, I requested an alternative Unison full-time official to support me in the hearing, a request which Steve Terry ignored. 

Later that day, May 1st, I received notice of my formal disciplinary hearing on May 10th. In the absence of legal advice and support from Unison London Region, I quickly obtained support from Unison rep Tony Greenstein (Brighton & Hove branch), who subsequently presented my case very ably at the May 10th hearing. On May 8th Steve Terry wrote me confirming his bad advice and confirming the withdrawal of advice and/or assistance. 

(b) Request for a legal opinion - URGENT
Yesterday (May 22nd) H&F Council informed me by email of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing: I am dismissed for “gross misconduct” from May 21st with salary in lieu of notice. I now intend to appeal, if that is possible, and then to take the case to an emplyment tribunal. This is particularly important for Unison becuase the outcome threatens the rights of all Unison members, indeed all employees, to freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. 

I am therefore asking again for an urgent legal opinion on the case, which involves both human rights legislation - concerning free speech, the right to demonstrate and the duty of public authorities to foster an environment in which political opinions which may irritate or offend the public may be legitimately expressed - and the interpretation of the Equality Act 2010, which should prohibit discrimination, but is being misused by H&F Council to restrict freedom of assembly and expression.   

(c) Request for representation
I also wish to renew my request for advice and support by a Unison full-time official other than Steve Terry, one who recognises the importance of defending free speech, not just for me but for all Unison members and for employees at large. 

Hoping for your ugent support - the H&F deadline for lodging an appeal is 10 working days from notification of the disciplinary decision.  

Kind regards, 
Stan Keable
07817 379568



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