Reinstate Micky: GMB union accused of attempting to persecute rank-and-file shop steward

A series of posts from “Red Tyneside” on twitter, reproduced here for reference:

A GMB regional official, Northern’s Billy Coates, is waging a battle against a rank-and-file, fighting shop steward, Micky Hunnam. On what basis? Three years ago someone allegedly failed to provide Micky’s address when certifying him at regional committee. At who’s behest? We don’t know. Is it [John Warcup]? He’s small fry, the branch secretary of the A61 branch and a 16 hpw-contracted Asda worker. Is it [GMB General Secretary Tim Roache]? Who knows? Micky’s campaigning has pissed off many full-time and lay officials close to GMB’s right-wing bureaucracy. Now what?
I understand Micky has sought and begun to receive independent legal advice. I understand how crucial this fight is. I understand what it’s like to be turned on by one’s own union. I understand the indispensable centrality of the membership as the primary driver of our movement.
So, on who’s mandate does this shadowy shit show in GMB officialdom take place? Not Asda. They’re laughing their horrible asses off at this internal trade union witch hunt. Not the members. Micky’s a popular rep on the shop floor with a depth of presence in the community.
That leaves only a few potential adversaries in GMB’s machinery who have made this a priority for their own purposes. It’ll become clear inevitably. Meanwhile campaigning for #AsdaRespectYourWorkers remains an arms-length endeavour. GMB doesn’t mobilize members. Just tops.
Instead of allowing members expressing a desire to participate in the Leeds protest it by providing travel and time off work it became another expenses-paid day out for many officials. Instead of supporting members who wanted to remain outside Asda house officials moved them on.
Officials also counted on the support of West Yorkshire Police, who read out a section 14 public order warning, the same routinely used against anti-racists, to prevent GMB members from expressing their legitimate class anger openly and thoughtfully. This is fit trade unionism?

Micky Hunnam’s been a leading figure in coordinating digital and real-world campaigning against Asda’s roundly hated attempt at imposition of contract 6, a naked attempt to strongarm staff out of pay and conditions. He led dialogue with leading lay reps which resulted in action.
His style may be unconventional and unorthodox at times but so what? Working class people come to trade unionism from many backgrounds because it’s meant to be a safe place for workers to turn in their hour of need for official support in their workplace and community struggles.
Throughout this struggle however I’ve observed as Tim Roache first sneered at, then attempted to dox detractors urging him in to solid action in defense of workers. Then, coincidentally or not, the funny business began. Now, a blatant attempt to strip a rep’s ERA credentials.
All of this is occurring in the broad daylight of social media and the workplace against a backdrop of high-profile and public dispute in one of Britain’s largest employers. This is nothing less than betrayal. A kangaroo court has even been scheduled to rubber stamp the decision.
A regional committee will assemble to consider the internal failure of officials to convey or provide Micky’s details to regional secretary Billy Coates THREE YEARS AGO. Coates also details that Micky’s response to his email will be considered by the committee, simultaneously.
What’d Micky’s response contain? Not a lot other than a robust response stating facts: the failure to provide his details isn’t his failure – it’s not his fault – why is this an issue NOW? – why is it being prejudiced by Micky’s response which merely calls out suspect details?
Trade union brothers and sisters, rightly or wrongly, Micky is taking action to prevent this betrayal. When he and Asda workers need their union most, it’s turning on him and failing them. This is unconscionable in our movement. It’s contrary to all we do and fight for daily.
I’m hoping you’ll read this thread, a brief, cursory explanation to this complex betrayal, retweet some or all of it, and use the hashtag #ReinstateMicky when commenting. Micky was suspended in perpetuity from work on phony charges, fought it, and won. Now the GMB takes its turn.
Please, discuss, read, and share. Don’t let this fighter go down. He’s fighting for all our basic rights as workers’ chosen representatives to hold the employer AND our trade union leaderships to account. He needs solidarity from around the movement to expose this rotten hustle.

About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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13 Responses to Reinstate Micky: GMB union accused of attempting to persecute rank-and-file shop steward

  1. Michael Hunnam says:

    Thank you for your solidarity and blogging this it is very much appreciated. I am now under investigation by ASDA for a grivance/allegations put forward by none other than my very own GMB trade union branch secretary just when you think it cannot get any worse it does you really couldn’t makethis shit up .I am also finding it very dificult to get representation at this moment despite still being a fully paid up GMB member with my subs being fully up to date. Thank you Michael Micky Hunnam.

  2. Michael Hunnam says:

    Posted by William George Salim Jarret aka Red Tyneside on Facebook: Now that he’s gone public I can discuss events concerning Michael Hunnam. I met Micky in 2014 while campaigning for TUSC. In the years that followed we developed a deep and trusting friendship. We’ve tested that friendship in the past several months more than ever before as we relied on one another to counsel ideas and tactics concerning Micky’s position at Asda and the GMB.

    What Micky’s been subjected to is akin to a gang beating being metted out by two groups. Michael has been a GMB shop steward for over three years in good standing and an Asda worker for over eight, all with an unblemished record. He’s popular among colleagues and the community his store serves. The announcement of imposition of contract 6 by the employer and the subsequent paper tiger campaign rolled out by platinum-plated GMB general secretary, disgraceful Tim Roache, has changed the lives of Michael and thousands of low-paid and precarious retail workers.

    Michael was among the first to challenge the bureaucratic wisdom that this wasn’t a dispute worth fighting for, organizing digital and workplace resistance to the union’s blatant indifference and cheap, placating stunts. Staff turned to him increasingly because they knew he was trustworthy and impervious to decrees from regional officers who’re closer to bosses than the members.

    In the months since April I’ve been astounded at the surreal events, twists, turns, and contortions of Michael’s battle. If there’s a Jake Lamotta of trade unionism then I think it’s Mickey. No matter how many blows are reigned down on him, he doesn’t go down whether win, lose, or draw.

    It’s been my honour and privilege to support Michael and to travel through this experience with him. To meet, discuss, analyze, and advise details has been a labour of love for a comrade and friend who’s been pushed to the brink and unbelievably durable under heavy fire.

    The toll taken on Michael and his family has been awful. GMB has exacted a heavy price on this fighter and those who love him, no more so than today when Asda sacked him at the behest of Michael’s own branch secretary, a fink called John Warcup, who no doubt acted on instructions passed from regional secretary Billy Coates, another dog, transmitted by even more senior officials.

    I want every trade unionists in North East England and across Britain to know what’s happened to Michael. In an era when we’re learning the darkest secrets of the deep state and the worst of trade unionism’s internal enemies, a broad daylight, modern day industrial crime has been committed against my friend.

    The energy, focus, and determination Michael possesses is what’s ensured he was able to carry on this long where as many others may have shattered. Michael made mistakes. We all do. What’s paramount now is that the entire trade union family reaches out its arms wide to this indefatigable warrior of ours.

    In the weeks and months to come these events may be revealed more broadly. Our movement must know what’s happened, the implications of it for us all, and the true and revealed nature of the frauds in senior GMB leadership. Workers have been sacrificed to the employer and their representative thrown to the wolves. Even the police are involved. That’s the most solid indication I can give you of just how nefarious these people are.

    Full solidarity with Michael and his family. Full solidarity with GMB members. Full solidarity with Asda workers as Tim Roache walks them in to industrial oblivion while posturing himself as a radical. We don’t give in. We fight where we stand, come what may.

  3. Pingback: GMB union and Asda accused of collaborating to sack shop steward: #ReinstateMicky update | Cautiously pessimistic

  4. SWILLS says:

    As a rep in Asda myself I am horrified by this story. This popular devoted shop steward is fighting tooth and nail for his fellow members and is doing what we all need to do -challenge ! The first thing we learn as reps is critical thinking which is not hard in our place of work and we should be encouraged to apply this thinking to our union if we believe it will make a positive difference- there is always room for improvement otherwise what is the point in Congress? if the GMB are prepared to pull the rug from under under Mick’s feet instead of listening with an open mind then the very essence of the unions ethos is lost

    • susan williams says:

      I left a comment on this scandalous story but admit with the knowledge I have of both parties I am not surprised at the treatment he has received. Has there been a petition of any kind ? An internal GMB investigation? Let’s face it there are as we know it the biggest of investigations going on about the allegations of Tim Roache as we speak and I am sure there are internal claims within the GMB of wrongdoings. I know of another very well organised rep who has been suppressed for doing the right thing so this is not isolated. Shame on the branch secretary and the regional officer for their actions. I want to contribute to changing things but need some guidance. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

      GMB comrade

      Sent from my iPhone


      • Thanks for your interest! I’m not either a GMB member or based in the region myself so I’m not in the best position to advise, but if you try contacting either FatherTyne or _RedTyneside on twitter, or finding Michael Hunnam himself on facebook, they might be able to tell you more. There does seem to be very little information about the whole situation around, which is why I’ve done my best to share what I have been able to find.

      • Michael Hunnam says:

        Unfortunately this article can no longer be shared on Facebook as it has somehow been blocked from Facebook from who I dont know I suspect the GMB Union bureaucracy has a hand in it. I have also tried sharing other articles from this site on Facebook and they have also been blocked.I am now in the process of a unfair dismissal tribunal which has unfortunately been postponed for the time being due to the Covid19 pandemic. I accept friend requests on Facebook from supporters and I am also a member of GMB Grassroots left on there. Solidarity and thanks for the recent comments Micky Hunnam.

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