Several people have contacted HOPE not hate asking about the Workers of England Union. We have created a short Q&A to answer many of the key questions
Are the WEU a real trade union?
Although the Workers of England Union does make a return of income and expenditure to the regulative authority, it is not a member of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) which oversees the way Trade Unions are run and administered. Instead it claims to be a member of the ‘English TUC’ of which it appears to be the only affiliate union and is listed as being run from the same office of the WEU. Interestingly, the officers listed for ‘the English TUC’ are also leading figures in the WEU.
The real TUC trains union officials in the relevant skills to benefit members. The so-called English TUC says little else other than it believes in Brexit.
The WEU’s last expenditure return showed very little benefit to their members and no expenditure on training. We have not been able to locate any record of democratic elections, by the members, of any senior officials including the General Secretary.
In short, no. The WEU is not a real trade union and is more like an association without any obvious benefit to its paying members.
Are WEU a politically linked organisation, and if so, to which political organisation/party/parties?
The WEU is very closely linked to the English Democrats, a far right-wing party known for its English nationalist and anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim attitudes. In recent years it has grown in size due to an influx of former members of the British National Party (BNP), many of whom are open nazis. More recently, the English Democrats has closely identified itself with Covid conspiracies and the anti-lockdown movement.
The union’s General Secretary is a perennial candidate for the English Democrats and the WEU’s only other officers are the Chairman and the Treasurer of the English Democrats. As well as claiming to stand up for the rights of the “indigenous English” the party has been heavily implicated in electoral fraud. In 2017 one of their most senior members was jailed for falsifying electoral forms.
Is the WEU giving accurate information to public service workers about the vaccine?
The information and advice the WEU gives to public service workers is contrary to the clinical advice given by established trade unions in the sector and medical professionals more generally. The information it relies on is based on conspiracy theories and/or unguaranteed legal opinions. as the information it passes to members is based on unrecognised and unsubstantiated scientific advice.
Is the WEU an organisation that has expertise in representing workers?
Supporters or members of the WEU have complained they have difficulty contacting the union for help and advice. This is because it has no workplace reps. This would be, in our opinion, because the union has few others capable of providing the level of skill and expertise required to provide meaningful help and advice to members. The WEU uses the services of the law firm run by the leader of the right wing English Democrats, which has little experience in representing workers or understanding of trade unionism.
Is the WEU an organisation that can be relied upon to give accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines?
No. The WEU would appear far more interested in promoting the advice of non-medical or scientific-based conspiracy theorists than giving accurate information about Covid-19 vaccines. The consequences of this are very dangerous, both from a health perspective but also in getting workers in trouble with their employers.
Much of the advice the WEU provides appears to be underwritten by disclaimers which absolve the WEU of responsibility for the consequences.
Why would an organisation like the WEU criticise established trade unions, such as UNISON? What is their motivation?
The WEU sees great benefit in criticising and trying to undermine the long-established work of unions like UNISON, because it is, in the traditional sense, anti-trade union. The WEU is dominated by the English Democrats, a right wing nationalist political party which has never supported trade unions or the collective response of workers to challenges at work.
The fact that the WEU has been highly praised by the right-wing Conservative Party group, the Bruges Group, should tell us everything we need to know about the WEU. The President of the Bruges Group is Norman Tebbitt, who was a central part of the 1980s Thatcher Government which deliberately sought to break and undermine trade unions. The Bruges Group supports deregulation and the watering down of employment and workplace rights.
The WEU also supports the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA), another libertarian, anti-union organisation, which supports the slashing of public services and massive tax cuts for the rich. Amongst the policies of the TPA are freezing all welfare benefits for two years, scrapping national pay bargaining in the public sector and abolishing the pensions ‘triple lock’.
By supporting, or having the support of, such organisations as The Bruges Group and TPA, the WEU is no friend of public sector workers. It is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Is the leadership of the WEU reputable?
Given the right-wing political association of the English Democrats and its flirtation with conspiracy theorists, the answer is “no”.
The WEU leadership supports a number of right-wing bodies including The Tax Payers Alliance, Free Speech Union and Freedom to Choose (which campaigns for the rights of smokers). It is also dishonest about its political affiliations. Last year, The High Court in London heard that WEU issued “instruments of deception” when handing out fake press cards to fake journalists.
Is the WEU a racist organisation?
While the WEU publicly claims it has a zero tolerance to racism, the actions of the WEU and the associated English Democrats would suggest otherwise. The WEU has had no problem representing the so-called ‘migrant hunters’, a collective of racist and even fascist anti-immigrant activists who have been recording and filming migrants arriving in the UK and holding protests outside accommodation centres housing new migrants. Many of these ‘migrant hunters’ have had close links with anti-Muslim activist Tommy Robinson (aka Stephen Lennon) and Patriotic Alternative, a fascist group led by former BNP youth leader Mark Collett.
If the WEU was truly opposed to racism, as it claims, it would not publicly defend these far right agitators.
Is the WEU a fascist organisation?
While the WEU is not a fascist organisation, through its connections to the English Democrats it could be seen as a bolthole for far-right activists. The WEU has endorsed and represented a number of members engaged in far-right activities, including the anti-immigrant ‘migrant hunters’, some of whom are linked to fascist groups.
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