Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Branch Secretary

This evening I went to my branch executive committee meeting in Kings Cross where I was confirmed as the newly elected (unopposed) Branch Secretary. UNISON Housing Association branch (HAB) has just under 3400 members and100 plus stewards in over 180 different housing organisations across London and parts of the South East. The branch directly employs its own staff and has an office in Haringey.

The former well respected and long serving branch secretary, Mary Powell, had to step down unexpectedly last month due to other commitments.

There are a number of huge issues and challenges facing branch members. Not least the cuts in government spending on housing (with more “savage” ones to follow), the crisis in supporting people funding and another year of pay cuts (in real terms) and the slashing of terms for staff who are often low paid in the first place. Recruitment of new members and union density will be key to protecting jobs and services.

Workers should join the union in the best of times but now in what is about to become the worse - it is even more imperative for them to join.

(screen print from HAB website which features a photo from previous Executive meeting)


Anonymous said...

Why don't the reports and votes links for the AGM work on the HA blog?

John Gray said...

Hi anon

I've just checked and all the links seem to work for me? could be internet problem?

John Gray said...

actually just double checked and you are right about AGM link. Will contact branch


Anonymous said...

great news

Anonymous said...

Well done John.

Good to see someone who welcomes a bit of transparency, unlike a former Branch Sec of a South London Branch who retired on the back of selling union facility time back to the employer!

Anonymous said...

Looking at the votes does that mean only 44 people were at the AGM?

Anonymous said...

Well in that case why were only 44 votes recorded, including abstentions? How many people were at the AGM?

John Gray said...

Hi Anon

There are 4 branch AGMs held in different parts of London (all in the evening - no facility time)

Anonymous said...

But if you look at the spread sheet it covers all four AGMs (south, west, east, central) and gives the total vote as 44, including abstentions.

So does that not mean the total attendence is 44? If so, why is it so low and is that even quorate?

Anonymous said...


You have over the last few years constantly attacked the socialist left for being unrepresentative and acting undemocratically. You are also a staunce advocate of all unison policies.

If the figures are correct (happy for you to prove otherwise). Your branch AGM (for which many of us have no facility time) had 44 members at it. The branch has 3400 members thats 1.3% of the membership that turned up! The code of good branch practice suggests that the quorum should be 5% of the membership (ie 160). Even if all of them voted for you it means that you have the backing of just over 1% of the membership!

and you have the cheek to lecture the left about democracy!!

Glenn kelly
Bromley Branch

John Gray said...

Hi Glenn (if it is you which I doubt since I don’t believe even you would make such an idiotic comment - but you have posted daftness on this blog before so maybe I am wrong, but to be on the safe side I will just call you Billy – as in silly)

Hi Billy, Yes, there is a problem with turnout at the AGM. I’m not sure why this is my fault since if you had bothered to read the post you would have realised that I was elected branch secretary unopposed this month after the AGM when the previous branch secretary suddenly resigned. I have also only been in the branch for just over 2 years. There are particular problems with facility time in our branch since we do not enjoy full time secondments and facility time for AGM’s (unlike most London LG branches and Bromley of course).

Since we work in the private sector and do not enjoy the “comfort zone” that many wannabe Toy Town revolutionaries in LG enjoy. I think that I am right in thinking that all unions have problems with attendance in AGMs? I don’t think Bromley branch has ever had a representative “democrat” turn out (50% plus) of members at its AGM either? I suspect that one reason may be that members don’t want to turn up to meeting and be lectured about the necessarily for “revolution now”. I have a few ideas to discuss with my branch committee about increasing turn out but maybe we need to think again about our structures. For example should all branch officer posts and policy decisions be put out to the membership by email ballot?

I still think that Billy not Glenn made the above comment. Of course being a good democratic centralist Glenn may have been told by his CC to do this so who knows (and actually who really cares what those who are found guilty in independent courts of such beliefs think e.g "not compatible with human dignity... It conflicts with fundamental rights..repugnant.. and not worthy of respect in a democratic society". )

Anonymous said...

"100 plus stewards in over 180 different housing organisations across London and parts of the South East. The branch directly employs its own staff and has an office in Haringey."

And you could only get 44 people to an AGM? Looks there is a serious democratic deficit in the branch. Maybe region should look into this?

Anonymous said...


I've posted this elsewhere. I don't think this was comrade kelly but one of his side kicks in lambeth.

The voluntary sector branch secretary is SWP and united left. It has a similar size membership and had only 19 members at its AGM! Maybe the region should look into this as well!

The former former branch secretary of lambeth made this comment on your blog recently about the ultra left in unison.

"I have said this before and will say it again they should be thrown out of any union they represent nothing other than a tiny number of opportunists. A lot of them are bullies and their method is simply based on intimitading ordinary members. I can tell you a few stories about that as I have seen them in action! I hope that when Dave wins again he will be more decisive in dealing with them at branch level".

says it all really.