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Support Keith Henderson

11th September 2015

Support Keith Henderson

Regular viewers of this website will be aware of the long running saga of Keith Henderson and his union, the GMB.
In 2012 he was dismissed as a full-timer for the union. He appealed. His appeal is still ongoing. An Employment Tribunal decided in 2013 that his dismissal was in part because of his “belief in left wing democratic socialism.” This is the reason a Union has for sacking someone! John McDonnell has been stalwart in Keith’s support.

Keith decided to try and stand as General Secretary. As the letter below shows, the rules as interpreted make it almost impossible for Keith or any other rank and file candidate to stand. This is a stitch up. Support Keith Henderson!

Dear Mr Short.

Thank you for your letter, dated 8th September 2015 in relation to the election of General Secretary and Treasurer.

I would like to express my concern in relation to the timescales outlined in your letter which make it necessary to make a decision forthwith in relation to your offer to allow me to appeal the ruling to prevent me standing in the General Secretary and Treasurer election.

As you are aware that I have formerly complained in relation to the bye laws that the CEC have formulated and imposed that prevent me seeking nominations from branches in relation to my desire to stand in this election, based on the ideas of devolvement and democracy outlined in the GMB Left manifesto.

As you are also aware this complaint was rejected as was the appeal and could be the subject of a certification officer complaint.

Whilst I can understand that technically, the bye laws, which would be the subject of the complaint, outline that thirty branch nominations must be forthcoming before a candidate’s name appears on the ballot paper the fact that I have been prevented from contacting branches to inform them I was seeking nomination, or to announce my nomination in a national newspaper, as others have been allowed to do, mitigates against me, or any other rank and file member standing for the highest office in the union.

It is my contention, that unlike rules, bye laws are not written in tablets of stone. In light of this, and given the current climate in the wider Labour movement at this moment in time I am appealing to the CEC, in conjunction with the agreement of the other candidates to waive bye law 2 on this occasion and allow me to stand in the election. Under rule 15.4 of the GMB union rule book the CEC has the right to withdraw or amend any by-law.

This while taking into consideration that in future any member of the union, securing the support of their own branch, should be able to seek the nomination of other branches.

Surely basic union democracy should mean that any GMB member should be able to seek nomination for election for the position of General Secretary.

If that individual’s own branch members feel that such a nomination is worthy of support they should be able to give it without fear of recrimination. (Currently both the Secretary and President of my branch are suspended from holding office pending a disciplinary hearing following the meeting that nominated me).

If that person’s branch supports their nomination, that individual should then be able to approach all branches making it clear they are seeking nomination.

Recent events have shown that machinations of a bureaucratic nature that prevent ideas being aired have been totally rejected.

It is my contention that if the majority of GMB members were aware of the ideas of transferring power in the union, from a national and regional level to a branch and workplace level and that these ideas were prevented from getting a hearing by the cynical use of bye laws to ensure the status quo is maintained, they would be outraged. 

If there is no support for myself or the ideas that I represent then there is nothing for the other candidates who have been allowed onto the ballot paper to fear.

Therefore, I call on the CEC to amend the by-laws and allow me onto the ballot paper to ensure that a proper wider debate can happen. It is the first time in over 12 years that GMB members are getting a vote on who their General Secretary is so let’s have a full debate and not deny anyone who has received nominations from being on the ballot paper.

Yours in Solidarity

Keith Henderson
Nominee For The Position Of General Secretary and Treasurer


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