An injury to Paul is an injury to us all

UNISON President Paul Holmes, a prominent left-winger, was suspended by his employer during a strike two years ago on secret charges. UNISON has suspended Holmes and his branch. Sam O’Brien reports from a solidarity protest.

Protestors in support of Paul Holmes. Banner reads 'We stand with Paul'

On Monday 6 September, 60 people gathered outside the Clarion Hotel in Huddersfield to show support for Paul Holmes at his disciplinary hearing. Over 100 people joined a simultaneous online rally. Holmes is the President of UNISON and has been the Branch Secretary of Kirklees Local Government UNISON branch for 30 years. He recently came second in the General Secretary election, taking a third of the votes cast.

Holmes was suspended by Kirklees Council in November 2019. None of the charges against him have been made public. At the time of his suspension Kirklees UNISON were balloting for strike action against the bullying of bin workers. 

Nick Ruff, Chair of Kirklees branch, and Assistant Branch secretary Cath Kinder were both suspended by UNISON due to ‘serious and confidential issues’ at the same time. These issues have still not been made public.

Holmes has had support from John McDonnell who spoke at the online rally, Jon Trickett  and Richard Burgon have also expressed their support.

The hearing is set to last until the end of September. Every trade unionist and socialist should get behind Holmes’ campaign.  


  1. Model motion in support of Paul Holmes:
    This Branch notes:

    • The suspension by Labour-led Kirklees Council of UNISON Branch Secretary Paul Holmes in December 2019
    • That Kirklees Council has had almost two years to carry out an investigation
    • That Paul has been a Nalgo and then UNISON steward for 46 years, and Branch Secretary for 32 years, and is currently the President of UNISON
    • That Kirklees UNISON is one of the largest branches in the country and had 3 live strike ballots and one pending when Paul was suspended
    • That the Council’s Deputy Leader said at the time, “There is a Father Christmas”.

    This Branch believes:

    • That an injury to one is an injury to all – employers must not be allowed to get away with attacking our union organisation and our union activists, reps, branch and national officers
    • The Deputy Leader’s statement shows that UNISON and Paul have been a thorn in their side, and critical to resisting cuts and closures of public services – delaying any investigation for so long indicates the aim was more to undermine union organisation in the Council.

    This Branch resolves:

    • To campaign for Kirklees Council to end the suspension of Paul

    • To write to both the Chief Executive and the Council Leader calling on them to lift Paul’s suspension

    • To affiliate to the Defend Paul Holmes Campaign and publicise and mobilise for campaign events and activities
    • To call on UNISON to offer its full support to a campaign to stop one of its activists being victimised
    • To send a message of support to Paul Holmes.


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