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T&G national secretary Jack Dromey said this week that the union has not accepted into membership workers at Middle...
T&G national secretary Jack Dromey said this week that the union has not accepted into membership workers at Middlesbrough BC who claim to have broken away from Unison and to have set up their own T&G branch.

Mr Dromey said: 'Our view is that those who have left their union should return to Unison. We are doing everything possible to persuade them to go back. The T&G is built on progressive trade union principles. We never have, nor will we ever, poach the members of another union.'

Staff left Unison to join the rival union after a row between manual and white-collar representatives at Unison's Middlesbrough branch. The breakaway workers claim they are formally members of the Administrative, Clerical, and Technical Services section of the T&G. They have an office at Middlesbrough, the council has recognised the new branch and it has 700 members, activists claim.

'As far as we're concerned the T&G has to accept us into membership,' said Simon Clark, an officer of the new branch. Julia Rostron, another leading breakaway member, said she had a steward's card signed by the T&G regional officer.

If the T&G does not accept the breakaway members, they could take the union to court. Trade union legislation specifies that no union can refuse membership to an applicant unless they work in an unrelated area or can be rejected on grounds of conduct.

Some breakaway members specified on their application forms for T&G membership that they would take legal action if rejected, according to Ms Rostron.

If the T&G takes on new members, Unison could declare a dispute and ask the Trades Union Congress to arbitrate. TUC rules state the T&G could be liable to pay Unison compensation for lost membership fees for up to two years for poaching its members.

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