Thursday, 28 May 2015

Community Union imposes restrictions on freedom of speech!

Northern Voices Editor - Brian Bamford

JUDGING from recent reports that we have received from sources within Unite the Union, it appears that union bureaucrats are cracking down on dissenting and awkward voices within the union in order to exert discipline and control over their members.

At a meeting of the Greater Manchester Community Union Branch, on Tuesday, which was attended by ten members, there was a recommendation from branch officer’s that branch policy in relation to postings on the branch’s Facebook page, should be changed with immediate effect to allow only content that reflected UNITE policy at either branch, regional, or national level, to be posted on Facebook. It was also recommended that only UNITE members should be allowed to comment, even though the function of the branch, is to carry out community campaigning work.

We understand that this motion to restrict free speech within the branch was opposed by Chris McBride, the branch communications and media officer, who hitherto had been posting articles of general community interest. He told the meeting that other UNITE branch’s Facebook pages were 'open, inclusive, and vibrant' and that this was what was needed, to build a branch of the union that was rooted in the community. Another member pointed out during the discussion, that even without these restrictions, some items being posted on the branch’s Facebook page, were being censored and blocked.

When put to the vote, the officers’ recommendations were defeated with three in favour, four against and three abstentions. The Branch Secretary, John Clegg, then immediately questioned the accuracy of the vote and Branch Chair, Communist Party member, Evan Pritchard, called for a fresh vote to be taken. The decision was then reversed and the officers’ recommendations were adopted.

Among those who attended Tuesday’s meeting, was the septuagenarian, veteran Manchester anarcho-syndicalist, Ronny (gall and wormwood) Marsden. This self-proclaimed libertarian evidently voted against the motion on the first vote but did a volte-face on the second vote - after being seen to exchange glances with the Branch Secretary – and voted for tighter controls over branch freedom of expression. 
The branch also unanimously agreed that officer's of the branch produce a newsletter.

Over the Pennines in Rochdale, another septuagenarian veteran anarchist is facing possible expulsion from Unite the Union, for allegedly bringing the union into disrepute after publishing a report on Northern Voices about a union meeting in Liverpool and blacklisting. Brian Bamford, Editor of Northern Voices magazine and Branch Secretary of Bury UNITE branch, has been summoned before a union inquiry to investigate whether he has broken union rules. 


Anonymous said...

Ronny's re-count remembered! Maybe Ronny Marsden couldn't remember which way he voted first time round? Or maybe Evan Prichard in the Chair, couldn't count? Whichever it was the Greater Manchester Community Union Branch seem to be a bunch of bumblers who are only too happy to suck-up to the union bosses.

Anonymous said...

Which way did Barry Woodling vote? I understand Barry is also an anarcho-syndicalist member of the Unite Greater Manchester Community Union?

barry Woodling said...

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the May meeting of the Greater Manchester Community Branch. If so I would undoubtedly have opposed any bureucratic manoeuvres to restrict freedom ofspeech within the branch.

Anonymous said...

This report, if true, represents a serious defeat for anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism in Manchester. Ron Marsden is one of the few old anarchists in the area to get involved in trade union and community affairs: for years he has done work for the Salford Unemployed Centre helping claimants fill-in forms. If he has now defected to the side of the union bureaucrats to gag free speech, it reflects badly on the anarchist movement as a whole.

Zyzzyzus floridanus said...

Ronny Marsden may not have understood what he was doing. Had Barry Woodling been at the meeting he may have been able to help poor Ron.

Anonymous said...

I was told that Ron's arm was 'bobbing up and down' as if he was dithering about whether to vote for censorship or free speech.