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.