ROUND AND ABOUT the ISU
By Judas Iscariot - Late July 2001
The idle days of Summer when time hangs heavy means it's traditional for at least one worthless individual to threaten legal proceedings against the union. This time the accolade goes to the "Immigration Service Union" (ISU) - an obscure outfit little known outside Home Office ranks.
The ISU has taken offence at a harmless spoof website put up by some members of the resistance within the immigration service. Called the "Intergalactic Space-Cadets Union" (ISU - geddit!) it gently mocks the pretensions of the real ISU and its war against aliens. This hasn't gone down well with the pompous bores in the ISU who are threatening legal action against PCS if it does not order the Immigration Branch Organiser to remove the offensive site from the web.
Company unions have always been with us - the most famous being the old "Kodak Wankers Union" and the bevy that revolved around the old ETU when Aims of Industry ran the electricians. Though for decades there was no need for them in the service - after all, the SOCIETY more or less did the job for them anyway - we did have "MODSA" in the Seventies and a few third-rate minor staff associations in fringe areas which to their credit have now joined the TUC.
In the old days company unions and tame staff associations were encouraged by Management to halt the growth of real trade unionism. It still appeals to those who never want to go on strike or pay union dues - needless to say many of those active in these outfits are Tories.
OF course, the ISU does have some benefits. It offers six months free membership, a free diary to the mugs who join, free insurance to continue their shift pay when they are sick, associate membership for those in sections not represented by the ISU and a pretty good travel club. While their peripheral services are not a patch on what you can get from the AA it certainly beats PCS hands-down.
While not noted for anything at all in the union world the ISU has made its mark in supplying ammunition for the anti "bogus asylum-seekers" mob. In 1999 the Daily Mail published a scare story claiming, "There were 76,570 people living in the UK awaiting asylum decision". The Tory rag quoted ISU leader John Tincey, saying, and "If something is not done soon, then this summer could finally see the dam burst We only need one tiny push in numbers and we'll be totally unable to cope".
Tincey's judgement was askew then and the accuracy of some of the ISU's figures was challenged the previous year at a meeting of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. The following exchange took place on 12th May 1998:
Mr Corbett: Just on the question of absconders, there was also a figure of 55,000 quoted in the papers as the number of people who have been through the system but of no known whereabouts. That does not relate to any of your figures.
Mr O'Brien: No. I was not sure quite where that figure came from. One of the national newspapers ran a figure about Labour plans to deport 55,000. We could not figure out where they got the 55,000 from. I think they mistook the figure in the Home Office backlog for the number that -
Mr Corbett: The Immigration Service Union are quoted as the source in the Sunday Telegraph on 14 December last year.
Mr O'Brien: Some of the figures that ISU uses, to be honest, are not entirely accurate and very questionable. What they seem to have done is calculated the total number of people who have claimed asylum, looked at the number of people who have been removed and then done some sort of calculation as to the number that - the way in which it was done just does not add up.
The Intergalactic Space-Cadets Union website is www.isunion.com
The Immigration Service Union website does not exist according to Google