Let’s think about this.

Why are NIPSA, notably the Padraig / Patrick element, calling for protests today over the additional work that members will have to undertake when colleagues leave under the Voluntary Exit Scheme?

Cynical electioneering?

I mean what in real terms are they doing or have they done to address the problems facing the members now tasked with increased workloads? 

Nothing. That appears to be what.

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Did you look at my bird?

It seems chivalry isn’t dead.

It seems Carmel got herself in a bit of a bind yesterday over the Nolan phone in when Jeff Peel outed her as “an active member of the Trotskyist Socialist party of Ireland” and questioned how she could be considered to be meeting her obligations of impartiality as required by her employer the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Padraig / Patrick Mulholland who is Carmel’s partner and, coincidentally, also a member of the Socialist Party, took offence at this and took to Twitter to challenge Mr Peel to a public debate.

A public debate on what? On the fact that both Padraig / Patrick and Carmel are members of the Socialist party and, as such, the main levers for that party to gain control of the NIPSA union? Probably not.

By the way, why is Padraig / Patrick appearing on Nolan and other mediums as a spokesperson for NIPSA? His term of office as President has ended and he is an ordinary member.

He has no mandate or right to be speaking or purporting to speak on behalf of the NIPSA membership so why is he being allowed to do so?

Oh, that’s right. Electioneering, facilitated by his partner Carmel, the current NIPSA President, and the Broad Left caucus / Socialist Party controlled General Council.

That explains a lot.

About this “sectarian threat”…..

On the matter of the alleged threat of a supposed lurch towards sectarianism on the part of NIPSA, as highlighted by Padraig / Patrick Mulholland when he states “It has recently been suggested by some that trade unions should form alliances with political parties that are based on the sectarian divide”, one would have to ask who are these “some” that Padraig / Patrick refers to? What exactly have they proposed and why, more importantly, does Padraig / Patrick think that NIPSA will bend to the wishes of the few? We, as a democratic union, ought to be told.

Somewhat contradictorily Padraig / Patrick states “It is my very firm view that if unions align themselves with either green or orange then our movement will fracture. I believe the trade union movement should be political but it should also be independent; our politics should be the politics of jobs, pay, pensions, homes, the NHS and education and it should be the politics of anti-sectarianism. We should not allow ourselves to become part of sectarian politics”.

It’s strange that Padraig / Patrick has such narrow focus that he sees the threat of a fracture as coming from only an alignment to parties based on orange or green politics yet he appears happily oblivious to the threat of other political “shades” having too much say.

Padraig / Patrick states “I will never take risks with the unity of our movement. Note “movement”, not “union” and here it is again with the clear distinction being made “I am asking all members of NIPSA to stand with me in defending the unity and independence of our union and our movement.”

Sectarianism is not confined solely to religious beliefs. Sectarianism is also evident in politics and a union controlled mainly, if not almost entirely, by the Socialist Party is neither “independent” nor, for that matter, anti-sectarian from an industrial or political point of view.

Clearly there are risks being taken with the unity of the union, not least because of the Broad Left and Unity caucuses which exist within the union. Is Padraig / Patrick calling for the disbandment of both or either of those groupings? If he is we’re not hearing about it. Why is that?

Anti sectarianism has been the bedrock of NIPSA since its inception. To listen to some of the rhetoric doing the rounds you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a modern concept dreamed up as recently as two or three months ago and in the ownership of one particular political ideology. This is clearly not the case.

Are we to take from Padraig / Patrick’s constant referencing of the threat of sectarianism that NIPSA’s track record and credentials in that regard will be abandoned should he not be elected General Secretary? Are we to believe that Alison Millar, the only other contender in this General Secretary election, will not continue the strong anti sectarian message and work of NIPSA? Hardly.

Why then is this so called threat of sectarianism of such importance to Padraig / Patrick in the course of this campaign? NIPSA has a strong track record of dealing with and tackling sectarianism everywhere that it is encountered. NIPSA will continue to do so in the future irrespective of who the General Secretary might be as the members, and society in general, would and will expect nothing less.

The fact is that the politics of fear and the division of a union based on the political divisions of groupings allowed to wrestle for control within that union are as divisive as sectarianism itself.

Beware of litterbugs.

As the election for NIPSA General Secretary approaches people will soon be inundated with various pieces of election campaign paraphernalia. Many people will also be receiving their voting papers to their place of work.

Members who decide not to vote are encouraged to be responsible when it comes to the disposal / recycling of their ballot papers. Do your bit for democracy and the environment and take steps to ensure that your unused ballot paper is properly prepared for disposal and recycling. Instead of leaving your ballot paper lying about your desk or office be a responsible citizen / democrat and take the time to tear up any ballot that you do not intend using rather than just tossing it in the bin.

This will not only help the environment but also the democratic process.

Vote them out and keep them out.

Our union is not a plaything for careerist revolutionaries. It is not a prize to be delivered to a political party in order for it to take control and use exclusively to its own ends.

NIPSA is a union that is currently, unknown to the greater number of its members, subject to a politically ideological split between the Broad Left and Unity groups. As a result of this the rights and working conditions of ordinary members are not being served and protected as they should be. Too much emphasis is placed on political matters outside of the union and individuals are focused on delivering for their political masters and not the members. This has to stop.

As paying members we have a right to expect effective representation. Instead what we get are two political groupings who have been allowed to grow within the union and who are now at loggerheads with each other.

Ordinary paying members deserve better. A union is supposed to be united, not subject to and constrained by groupings focused on their own select objectives. A union is supposed to work for the greater good of its members, not the political aspirations of those who otherwise would hold little to no sway politically in society.

Certainly people are entitled and should be encouraged to hold political opinions but there is a time and a place for politics. In circumstances where individuals who hold union officer positions are seen to be spending more time pushing a political dogma than looking after the actual on the ground bread and butter issues affecting members then these officers should be challenged and challenged democratically by ballot. If these individuals and groups want careers in politics then they ought to pursue careers in politics instead of using our union and our union dues to advance their political ideologies.

Vote them out and keep them out. Save our union.

The real agenda.

Padraig / Patrick Mulholland is one of two candidates seeking election to the position of NIPSA General Secretary. Padraig / Patrick is a committed socialist and proud member of the Socialist Party, a fact he openly admits and a political ideology he openly champions. These are, quite rightly, decisions for him to make as an individual. There is, however, an objective of his particular brand of politics which he does not talk openly about. That objective is to take over the union to further the political agenda of the Socialist Party, and the Socialist Party only.

We know this how? Well, we know it because the Socialist Party tells us that this is their objective.

The following are extracts from the Socialist Party congress of 2006.

“Trade union activity, however, does not begin and end merely in the official structures. We have to combine it with work from below, as we have done in the defence of our comrade against the dictatorship of the bosses in the bus industry. The points of production – the fortresses of the revolution described by Lenin – are where the real, crucial battles will unfold. The rebuilding of the shop stewards and workplace representatives movement must be seen as a central task for our party. This involves re-pioneering work to forge a militant backbone which will come from the new generation of young workers who will move into action in the next period. We must do everything to facilitate the entry of this new generation. The work in the PCS, in creating a youth structure, of developing workplace representatives, is vital not just for the union but for the general struggles of the working class which will develop.

To facilitate this work, properly organised and disciplined caucuses in the different unions must meet on a regular basis. Their task is to formulate written programmes and pamphlets for their own union and industry. The national trade union school has increased in importance in the past years. There, battle-hardened veterans discuss with and help the new layer of comrades who have entered our party and are inexperienced in trade union work but are eager to learn and participate in this crucial field.

The attendance at the national conferences of the trade unions is still extremely important. Many of these conferences – although not all – are composed of the same people who have attended for years if not decades. The more bureaucratic conferences of bureaucratic unions can, moreover, be a very rough, weak barometer of the real moods developing from below. They are nevertheless important in gauging the mood of more developed workers, in seeking to get our point of view accepted and thereby carried to a broad layer of trade unionists. They are also an important source of influence and potential recruits to the left in general in the unions and to our party. This work up to now has been conducted by a relatively small, heroic ‘band of brothers and sisters’. We must widen the participation of comrades covering the trade union conferences, through the involvement of a new layer, as with the recent USDAW youth conference.

We have to also recognise that the culture of trade unionism has been completely lost, is not immediately present, in the consciousness of big layers of young people. This is a consequence of the attack on collectivism, on socialism, in the neo-liberal crusade of the last era. Events will heighten the collision between the classes and will help to change this. But we can play a role now in facilitating this process with a conscious policy of seeking out and educating the best young workers. We must go into the schools, colleges and universities on trade union issues as well, as preparation for future battles. This must start with the new generation who come into our party. They must be saturated in the spirit, the history and the current situation within the unions. If we carry this out successfully we will create a new generation who can speak to, learn from and convince older workers on the programme, tactics, etc, of our party. Even very young comrades can have a decisive effect on older workers so long as they are sufficiently educated and know how to speak to and above all listen to workers.

The twin pillars upon which our party will be built are amongst the young and in the workplaces and offices, as well as trade unionists. Up to now, we have quite correctly concentrated our efforts in the schools, colleges and universities to win young people to our programme and socialism. This must be continued and stepped up. At the same time we have systematically tried to develop our influence within the trade unions and the workplaces. Only occasionally, however, do both fields coincide, with new young recruits participating on picket lines in strikes, selling at trade union meetings, etc. However, as we grow and recruit a new generation, we must have a systematic and concentrated approach, where this is possible, in directing new young comrades to important workplaces and unions. On the foundations that we create now, in the next year or so, can be built a powerful party as a vital lever for the working class as it moves into action.

The trade unions in Britain have a long history going back even before the French Revolution. They have been the main factor in lifting the working class out of cultural and economic backwardness. To continue this role today, however, they must be renovated and renewed by a new fighting socialist leadership, thereby becoming an agency for change and the creation of a new society. In that new society, out of the ranks of the trade unions, as Trotsky pointed out, can come the personnel and the administration for a democratic, workers’ state, particularly in the organisation of the factories and the workplaces. But in union work, to paraphrase Marx, there is no ‘royal road’ to effective work and gaining influence. It requires systematic and often very unglamorous activity. It is nevertheless vital for the future.”

You are encouraged to read the full article here http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/events/conferences/spconf2006/4.htm or alternatively here https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/events/conferences/spconf2006/4.htm should there be any difficulties in accessing it through the first link.

You can download the entire document from here http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/events/conferences/spconf2006/BritishPerspectives2006.rtf and skip to the “Revolt of the low paid” section.

So, there you have it. The Socialist Party has instructed it’s members to form caucuses within unions and to use these caucuses to steer and ultimately take over the union to further the ideals and power base of the Socialist Party. Sound familiar?

Political sectarianism in the form of a one party controlled union to further the Socialist Party agenda, that is the real agenda.

Why the secrecy?

For a political grouping that is always going on about a “Democratic, fighting union” why does the Broad Left grouping have a “members area” where only approved members can participate or view what they are discussing? Why, if they are acting in the interests of all of the NIPSA membership, do they feel the need to hide what it is they are discussing on our behalf?

Competing groupings within unions are a dangerous thing. They lead to suspicion, secrecy and division. The two main competing groupings within NIPSA should both be open, transparent and democratic in their dealings with and for the entire NIPSA membership.

Setting aside the fact that a grouping within NIPSA feels the need to keep information from the members it represents and seeks to restrict debate to the confines of its own membership this type of secrecy is in contravention of a motion passed at Conference this year which obliges NIPSA to consult and be open with the members on all matters which affect or stand to affect them. Given that the current General Council is almost entirely made up of Broad Left members what could they possibly be discussing in secret away from the general membership?

One could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the interests of NIPSA members and adherence to Conference motions isn’t of concern to them and that they have another agenda that they are not happy sharing with others.

“I will not take the extra salary”.

On the face of it this looks like a commendable gesture from Padraig / Patrick….but is it?

How seriously will he be taken when negotiating Civil Service pay deals, part of his role as General Secretary, should he be elected? I mean why would anyone listen to someone who openly advocates accepting a lesser rate than the going rate for a job as their salary?

Picture the bemusement on the face of the Civil Service negotiating team as they try to fathom that one out. Here’s a guy who sacrifices part of the going rate of the job he does asking for better pay and conditions for his members. Leading by example? Accepting less than the going rate for the job?

This also raises the issue of what Padraig / Patrick intends doing with the additional money he is paid but doesn’t take. He says that he will donate those sums to trade union / labour causes (not the party) and that the donations will be open to scrutiny by the members.

I would have thought that a democratic union would have a vote on who the additional salary should be donated to, rather than an individual deciding and then opening it up to scrutiny after the fact.

Democratic? Really? Let’s see some evidence of that.

“Democratic” is a word often bandied about by the Broad Left. In fact it is a part of their mantra “Building a democratic, Fighting union”.

It’s interesting that a few of the Broad Left / SP controlled branches have begun issuing notifications to their branch members advising them about the all members meetings they will be holding to select the candidate that they as a branch wish to support in the General Secretary elections.

Each that we have seen state openly that they are leaning toward supporting Padraig / Patrick and include snippets of Padraig / Patrick’s nomination blurb. Why is there no mention of the other candidate? Why are there no snippets of Alison Miller’s nomination blurb?

Is this some new sort of democracy we are seeing practiced by the Broad Left where only their preferred candidate gets mentioned and quoted in what are supposed to be neutral announcements?