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Date: Friday 25 August 2006

Court lifts ban on union elections

The path has been cleared for UNISON Scotland to elect officers to run the largest trade union branch in Scotland following a decision by the Court of Session in Edinburgh today. This was stalled for a year by a number of activists who obtained an interim interdict banning UNISON members from electing lay representatives to run the affairs of their branch.

In the enforced absence of democratically elected leaders, the 15,000 strong branch has been administered on an interim basis, by the union's full-time staff. Now health workers in Glasgow and Inverclyde will be able to stand for election and run their own affairs.

The interim interdict was granted to stop branch elections last year, after some activists failed to accept their nomination as candidates in time and were eliminated from the election for officers. Although UNISON had extensive evidence to the contrary, it was claimed, among other things, that these activists were unaware of the election rules. However, one year on, they had not pursued their claim to court and the following round of annual elections were due.

UNISON therefore sought to have the interdict lifted. The activists chose not to contest this. Against this background the Court agreed that the interim interdict should be lifted and normal trade union activity restored.

Matt Smith, UNISON's Scottish Secretary said: "It is no secret that UNISON was deeply unhappy that a small number of activists succeeded in disenfranchising UNISON members by their action. It is telling that in the year since the interim interdict was granted they have never had the confidence to pursue the case to a full hearing. But today is really about the future of health workers at NHS Glasgow and Clyde. We have invested heavily to ensure that this court action did not distract from organising a successful branch which campaigns for members, for equal pay and for our publicly owned National Health Service. We are delighted that the Court has now allowed us to return the branch to its rightful owners - the members."


For Further Information Please Contact: Matt Smith (Scottish Secretary) 07771 548 997(m) Peter Hunter (Legal Officer) 07903 814 118 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)