Unions rally around sacked organiser

Submitted by Matthew on 25 October, 2013 - 6:40

A mailing was sent out last week to all Trades Union Councils in Scotland, calling on them to adopt policy condemning the dismissal of Stan Crooke as the Transport Salaried Staffs Association’s (TSSA) Scottish Regional Organiser and demanding his reinstatement.

The TSSA is a small union mainly based on the railways ,with 22,000 members (but four Assistant General Secretaries). Stan Crooke was summarily dismissed in July of this year, although he was not informed of the outcome of his appeal until September.

The mailing, sent out by his Unite union branch, was the latest step in a campaign which has already won support from Unite and GMB branches in Glasgow, the Glasgow/Renfrewshire Unite Area Activists Committee and Glasgow Trades Union Council.

The motion passed by Glasgow TUC committed the Trades Council to:

• Write to the TSSA General Secretary and all members of the TSSA Executive Committee, condemning Stan Crooke’s dismissal and demanding his re-instatement.

• Circulate to all Trades Council affiliates and delegates the leaflet about his dismissal produced by his Unite branch.

• Write to the STUC General Secretary, asking for the issue of Stan Crooke’s dismissal to be an item on the next meeting of the STUC General Council.

Last week also saw solicitors submit an Employment Tribunal claim for Stan Crooke for unfair dismissal.

This means that despite the pro-employer bias built into employment law, the solicitors (retained by Unite to represent Unite members in Scotland) are of the opinion that it is more likely than not that a Tribunal will conclude that Stan Crooke was unfairly dismissed by the TSSA.

According to a leaflet produced and circulated by Stan Crooke’s Unite branch, headlined “A Summary Dismissal That Demeans Trade Unionism and All We Stand For”:

“Any trade union activists experienced in representing members would rightly condemn this treatment (of Stan Crooke) as a catalogue of abuses of disciplinary procedure and employment law by the employer.”

“We share the concerns of TSSA members that the behaviour of their union as an employer is at odds with the role TSSA reps play in defending their members against similar behaviour by their employers.”

“We call on activists in Unite and throughout the trade union movement to support the demand of TSSA members for the reinstatement of their Scottish Regional Organiser.”

“For any employer to behave in such a manner is bad enough. But when the employer is a trade union, it is a stain on our movement as a whole.”

The ongoing campaigning in opposition to Stan Crooke’s dismissal coincides with difficulties faced by TSSA leaders on other fronts.

In September the planned merger between the TSSA and Unite collapsed. (Strictly speaking, given the disparity in size between the TSSA (22,000 members) and Unite (1.4 million members), it was to have been a “transfer of engagements” rather than a merger.)

This was the third time in eighteen months that attempts by the TSSA to merge with another union have failed — with the RMT in March of 2012, and with Community in early 2013.

Then, earlier this month, the Sunday Times published an article (headlined: “’Chauvinist’ Union’s Lap-dancing and Lies”) in which the TSSA’s last President alleged that the TSSA suffered from a culture of misogyny and bullying:

“She claims she was repeatedly browbeaten by an overbearing baron who was unhappy in his well-paid role, pressurised not to stand for re-election to her post to clear the path for male colleagues, and subjected to a whispering campaign designed to derail her attempt to get re-elected.”

“Her most serious allegation, though, relates to an attempt by union cronies to secure a substantial pay-off for a disaffected male colleague”

A succession of failed merger talks. A string of public denunciations by a former President. A pending unfair dismissal claim which has already received widespread publicity in the local trade union movement. And possible job cuts after the latest failed would-be merger.

This sorry record makes it all the more important that TSSA reps and members receive support from their counterparts in other unions: the failings of the TSSA leadership cannot be allowed to become an opportunity for employers to undermine trade unionism in the workplace.

For more information about the reinstatement campaign and/or copies of the leaflet produced by Stan Crooke’s Unite branch, e-mail: reinstatenow@yahoo.co.uk

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