Hello, I’m Spartacus so I am.

So it seems to be a thing now where candidates feel they have to state they are “anti sectarian” in their General Council election blurbs. Why would they have or feel the need to do that? Is it perhaps because of the spectre of political sectarianism that has already been evidenced in the expulsion of two members due to their political leanings still hangs heavy in the air around certain groupings?

I don’t know about you folk but if someone’s introductory statement to me was “Hi, I’m so and so and I’m anti sectarian” I would assume one or more of the following to be the case.

1; They feel the need to distance themselves from association with past behaviours.

2: They think it is some form of validation that differentiates them from everyone else (whereas it is by and large the norm that the majority of people are not, by default, sectarian).

3: They think it makes them special (see 2 above).

4: They think people are stupid enough to be as impressed with such glib statements as they themselves are.

The whole General Council election has a depressingly familiar ring about it where rhetoric and slogans are to the fore and there is a complete absence of any strategy of substance to be seen anywhere.

Here we are nowhere.

“Curiouser and curiouser”.

That’s how the behaviours, structure, processes and political posturing and infighting within NIPSA has been described by a recent Tribunal where an allegation that two members were unjustifiably expelled was found to be true.

In the course of its examination of the claim the Tribunal laid bare the level of political control and interference that is tearing NIPSA apart. It identified the two factions as being equally self serving and, ultimately, politically indistinguishable with certain members claiming to be communist whilst advocating a socialist doctrine.

Both factions are using NIPSA, its members and its member subscription money as a political plaything to advance their political ideologies. While members are facing real challenges in the shape of no pay rises, attacks on their terms and conditions and increasingly hostile attacks from the Government and Assembly these political factions are hell bent on using subscription monies, resources and anything else at their disposal to try and run NIPSA like a political party.

If anyone wants to know just how ridiculous the situation in NIPSA has become they should take the time to read the Tribunal ruling in its entirety. To do so simply click here and in the “Tribunal Name” select “Both” in the “Decision Issued Year” type in 2016. In the “Case ID” box type 00043/15FET and in the “Claimant” box type Fleck. Then on the search results page click on the Word document icon (word_icon) and download the judgement in full. It makes for truly depressing reading.

curiouserandcuriouser

Two indistinguishable factions involved in juvenile political point scoring and in-fighting whilst members suffer.

factions

The union is run by two factions.

undue involvement

Yes, that’s right “…without any undue involvement from members”. A branch run by individuals of a particular political opinion who consider a turnout of less than 2% of the branch to be “such a good turnout”.  Cloud cuckoo land.

We can all see what’s been going on here, can’t we? Sadly this isn’t unique to this branch. For years these politically motivated factions have benefited from low turnouts at branch meetings as it enables them to advance whatever idiotic cause celebre might be seen by them to be en vogue at any particular time without fully democratically engaging the membership.

Many branches controlled by these two factions pay lip service to their members and democracy. The “union” is hemorrhaging membership as a result of the voluntary exit scheme and natural wastage yet the senior officials charged with the oversight of the union, whose very salaries depend on membership subscriptions, turn a blind eye to these malpractices rather than acting to counter the hijacking of the union and the abuses of office which have been clearly identified in this Tribunal ruling.

The General Secretary Alison Millar promised much in the way of change as part of her election campaign. She campaigned on the basis that she was truly independent and not aligned with any faction within the union. Let’s see some of that change. Lets see a strong General Secretary stick to her word and address this issue, openly.

The genie is out of the bottle, the Tribunal has exposed and made a mockery of the political control and infighting which has now seen this union become a laughing stock. A “union” which wastes members subscriptions by ignoring the rule of law, legal advice offered and democracy just to advance a particular political dogma is not a union. It is an organisation in chaos. An organisation too afraid to address its own shortcomings. An organisation which, clearly, allows bullying and which has bullied its way to becoming a vehicle to misrepresent the democratic voice of some 40,000 members to advance a political ideal which even some of its main proponents themselves fail to understand entirely.

ruling

Those involved in this whole sorry affair should be held to account. Those who failed and continue to fail to act appropriately in the interests of all the members should be held to account also. If this “union” aspires to be truly democratic then it must act to prevent this type of gerrymandering of votes, misrepresentation and, as has been the case here, the squandering of money.

It is a travesty that Conference in 2015 called for an increase in subscription fees in times of austerity where no real pay rise has been had for five or six years whilst simultaneously – unknown to the general membership – throwing away funds by ignoring several sets of legal advice, being subjected to proceedings and leaving itself open to ridicule all because of some egotistical political posturing.

Put a stop to this political chicanery. Stop the bullying. Stop the wasting of members subscriptions. Stop the bar stool psychologists advancing their political dogma at the expense of the ordinary paying members who have been taken for a ride for years – blissfully ignorant of what was going on in the union and the various overtly political agendas being advanced.

Your paying members deserve better.

If Carlsberg did irony. One for the slow learners out there.

Courtesy of the Collins English Dictionary here’s a handy “cut out and keep” ready reckoner for those members of factions within NIPSA who like to harp on and wax lyrical about their own anti-sectarian credentials and how they are going to “fight sectarianism”.

Is it starting to make sense yet?
Is it starting to make sense yet?

Do you see the problem? Yes, that’s right, by definition you’re the problem.

Makes uncomfortable reading, doesn’t it?

Let’s TalkTalk about hacking

It’s an unfortunate reality of the modern digital age that people will, from time to time, fall foul of individuals who seek to disrupt and subvert business and discourse. The current situation which TalkTalk finds itself in is a case in point.

Yesterday the Twitter account of General Secretary candidate Alison Millar fell victim to someone who hacked the account and deleted her tweets. Yes, that’s right, deleted her tweets.

2015-10-25_09-32-12

You’d have to wonder what type of individual or group would be interested in suppressing democratic opinion to the point that they would be desperate and disingenuous enough to hack a twitter account and risk a possible criminal conviction for doing so.

It’s regrettable that at the time of writing the silence from many of those who call for fair play and open and democratic debate, who you would think would vehemently oppose such behaviours, is deafening.

True democrats will, of course, speak out against this type of attack. It is an attack on democracy, free speech and the promotion of trade unionism.

As Socrates might have said in a modern context “When the debate is lost, hacking becomes the tool of the loser”.

Speak out and condemn these behaviours.

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.

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.