Around 100 people joined a solidarity rally for Unison Branch Secretary and national President Paul Holmes on Monday 6 September as his disciplinary hearing began. Holmes was suspended by Kirklees Council in November 2019. The council is not holding the hearing at council offices as would be usual, instead paying for a four-star hotel on the outskirts of Huddersfield.
Though supported by his local branch, Holmes is not receiving support from the national union. Along with other Kirklees Unison activists, Holmes has also been suspended by Unison, with no hearings yet. It is unclear whether the two sets of charges are related. We do not know the content of either set of charges, but we do know there had been a history of the Unison bureaucracy working with employers to witch-hunt left wing activists.
Prior to Paul Holmes’s suspension, Kirklees branch had been active, with branch meetings held at local football stadium to allow more members to attend. But the branch has not been permitted to hold an AGM since 2019.
As branch secretary of Kirklees Unison, Paul has led strikes and campaigns against council cuts. Most recently council bin workers in Kirklees threatened to strike over claims of victimisation, including bullying, racism and “heavy-handed” management.