Demonstration outside Unison HQ against witchhunt of four unison members, photo Paul Mattsson
Four Socialist Party members were disciplined by Unison on trumped-up charges of racism, after producing a leaflet at the 2007 Unison conference, challenging the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) about ruling resolutions off the conference agenda.
After a three-year long battle, we have at last been given justice in a court of law. Unison has been ruled to have acted unlawfully in disciplining us, banning us from office and taking control of our branches.
For three years the union officials have tried to hide behind the smear of racism, citing the three wise monkeys cartoon on the leaflet. But the judgment is absolutely clear on this question: "It is obvious to anyone looking at the cartoon that it is meant to represent the well-known image of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil." The judge was coincidentally an Asian woman.
She later goes on to say that: "All four claimants are committed anti-racists and have fought against racism. They quite reasonably assumed that anyone who saw the leaflet would understand the cartoon to be saying that the SOC was out of touch and closing its mind to and ignoring issues that concerned the membership.
The cartoon was not a pictorial depiction of the members of the SOC... but a representation of its attitude towards motions that were submitted to it."
She describes the evidence from the chair of the SOC as being "inconsistent" and says that it wasn't credible. She also challenges the London regional secretary of Unison, Linda Perks. Linda Perks had stated the importance of the perception of the alleged complainants about the leaflet but had failed to speak to any black members of the union, including Beverly Miller, chair of the union's Black Members' Committee and Clytus Williams, chair of the SOC.
In relation to the cartoon the judge says: "It must be emphasised that the monkeys in the cartoon could not by any stretch of the imagination be seen to be a caricature of Mr Williams."
What is clear is that we've been disciplined because we had the temerity to demand the right to debate whether union officials should be elected and live off a worker's wage, whether ordinary members should have control over strike action and whether the union should carry on funding the Labour Party, particularly at a time when a Labour government was voting through thousands of redundancies of our members.
Many members, who are delighted at the tribunal result, are demanding that the bans be lifted, that we be reinstated in our branch and national positions and that our Unison branches be taken out of regional administration.
Tens of thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours have been used to try to prosecute this case against us.
Members have a right to know that every penny in the union and every moment will be used in defence of their jobs and aimed at the real enemy which is the employers and this government.
We call on all Unison members and branches to demand that this injustice be undone. Plans are also being made to lobby Unison's national executive council.
We are asking UNISON branches to pass the following motion and send it to their Regional Councils and UNISON NEC
"This Branch welcomes the recent ruling of the
outcome of the recent Employment Tribunal between Glenn Kelly, Onay Kasab, Brian
Debus and Suzanne Muna and UNISON.
The Judgement stated:
“The unanimous judgement of the tribunal is that all the claimants were
unjustifiably disciplined contrary to section 64 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations
(Consolidated) Act 1992.”
This means Glenn Kelly, Suzanne
Muna, Onay Kasab and Brian Debus should never have been disciplined let alone
barred from holding office.
This follows a determined
campaign by the four and their supporters which has lasted for over three years
in which it was widely recognised that the persecution of the four was because
they challenged the position of the union and had nothing to do with the
disgraceful smear of racism.
We call on UNISON to
immediately lift the ban on the four from holding office and to end the
“Regional Supervision” of the Bromley, Greenwich and TSA UNISON branches.
UNISON should desist from
spending any more time and money trying to bar these members from holding
office within UNISON.
Download a copy of this motion as a Word document
Please let us know if your
branch supports the motion by e-mailing: Defendthefour@BTinternet.com
There will be a Defend the Four public meeting on
the evening of the 22nd February followed by a lobby of the next NEC on 23rd February.
Please check out website for
further details of the meeting and lobby.
10 March 2010
Don't let Unison democracy go up in smoke!
Join Unison members outside Congress House on Great Russell Street, London
Monday 15 March 6pm onwards
Unison members - bring your letters from Unison HQ to burn!
Then come to a Defend the Four meeting,
7pm at University of London Union (ULU), Malet Street (just around the
Eye witness account
Onay Kasab (Kaz), Greenwich Unison branch secretary, was told to "disappear
sharpish" by Unison bureaucrat Dan Pappiett. That is just part of the shameful
scene I witnessed last Friday at 7.50am as I shook with anger. This was
without doubt an attack on every one of the 3,500 members in Greenwich.
Six Unison 'political police officers' marched into the branch office,
thinking Kaz would be alone. He wasn't. They did this with the aid of
Greenwich council head of human resources Sean Rafferty, which tells a story
in itself of collusion between management and the union at regional level.
It was the most disgraceful incident that I have witnessed in my entire
working life. And, when members got home from work there was what can only be
called an open insult waiting for them. A letter from the witch-hunter general
herself, Linda Perks informed them how she was going to "improve" the branch
that Kaz and the other branch officers have built over the last 13 years.
For the last three days I have hardly been off the phone trying to explain
to outraged members how unelected officers from their own union can throw out
the branch leadership elected by members. Tom, a worker on grounds maintenance
said: "I didn't elect Linda Perks. I elected Kaz. As far as I'm concerned Kaz
is still my branch secretary".
If we are to withstand the attacks on our jobs, pay and conditions after
the general election it is vital that we reclaim our union from these
self-serving bureaucrats. Our best working class fighters, Kaz, Glenn, Brian
and Suzanne, must be reinstated to their rightful democratically-elected
A Greenwich Unison steward
Take this motion of protest to your union branch:
This branch /meeting condemns the actions of the UNISON
leadership in banning four UNISON branch officers from office for between 2
and 3 years.
This is against the background of increasingly expelling and
banning UNISON activists who oppose and challenge the leadership.
We also condemn the UNISON leadership for placing Bromley,
Greenwich and the TSA branches under Regional supervision, thereby punishing
other branch officers and members. The way in which the Greater London
unelected regional officials entered the 3 union offices in the early morning
of the 5th March was disgraceful as well as intimidating.
Such actions are not isolated attacks but are becoming a
trend within the union as the leadership appear to be afraid of members who
are building fighting branches and questioning union policy.
We call for the bans on the four to be lifted and for the
members in the three branches to be represented by those whom they voted into
Instead of attacking elected, fighting activists the UNISON
leadership should put all its efforts into fighting the savage cuts which are
being planned across the public sector and stop wasting our money attacking
active, fighting branches and their elected officers. This will only weaken
any opposition to the cuts by demoralising members.
A democratic fighting union is needed to defend our member
jobs, pay and conditions.
Please send motions to:
Dave Prentis, UNISON HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ
Please send copies to:
Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG
5 March 2010
Dawn raids on unison offices!
Ban imposed on four unison branch leaders
Following the mitigation hearings Glenn Kelly (Bromely), Suzanne Muna
(Housing Association), Onay Kasab (Greenwich) and Brian Debus (Hackney) have
all been banned from holding any office in Unison.
Picture - latest
leaflet - click here to open
Early this morning (5th March) UNISON officials turned up at the UNISON
offices of the Bromley, Greenwich and the Housing Association having given no
notice; we are awaiting an update from Hackney. The officials have attempted
to confiscate computer hard drives and other resources, which include important
documents on on-going personal cases.
The officials intend to run elections for new branch officers but as has
happened in other branches they may well try to run the branches themselves
which has led to moribund UNISON branches.
The Four have conducted a determined and high profile campaign which has
meant that it has taken nearly 3 years to get them banned from office. The
mitigation hearings also concluded that the length of the bans will be reduced
by between 1 and 3 years.
However, this morning’s action shows the vicious reality of the UNISON
leaderships attacks on socialist activists within the union.
The four are urging supporters to phone or e-mail UNISON Head Office now to
protest against the ban and the raids of the branch offices.
What we need you to do:
1. Let as many unison members as possible know what is happening
2. E-mail letters of protest to:
- UNISON General Secretary Dave
- UNISON London Region:
3. Phone UNISON Head Office to express your disgust on 0845 355
4. Pass a motion at your next meeting to be sent to Dave Prentis.
5. Funds are urgently needed for leaflets, publicity and legal costs.
Cheques payable to: 'Stop the Witch-Hunt' and should be sent to: Defend the
Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG.
6. Please let us know details of your protests - e-mail us at:
27 Feb 2010
Unison upholds the ban after political ruling by court
Once again the courts have shown their class prejudice in the Employment
Tribunal ruling against the four Socialist Party members fighting the
witch-hunt in Unison.
The four have been banned from holding office in Unison for three to five
They took their case to an Employment Tribunal, arguing that they are being
discriminated against by the Unison leadership on the basis of their
"philosophical beliefs" (i.e. being members of the Socialist Party).
But, not satisfied with blocking the British Airways workers’ right to
strike, a court has now effectively ruled that socialists and Marxists do not
have the right to be protected in law from discrimination and harassment in
the workplace or in a trade union.
Incredibly the judgment went on to say that the four’s beliefs in the right
for housing for all and the right of workers to take unofficial strike action
were views that were "repugnant in a democratic society"!
Emboldened by the backing of the Employment Tribunal, the following day the
union leadership sent a letter to the four telling them that they have lost
their internal appeal and will now face a mitigation hearing on 24 February.
Glenn Kelly (NEC member and branch secretary of Bromley Unison) and Onay
Kasab (branch secretary of Greenwich Unison) have been banned for three years.
Suzanne Muna (branch secretary of Tenant Services Authority) has been banned
for four years and Brian Debus (branch chair of Hackney Unison) for five
Stop the witch-hunt!
To fight "savage cuts" we need a fighting and democratic union
The campaign to defend the four calls for a mass
response from workers and left trade union leaders to protest against this
Members are incensed that just at a time when they are
facing greater attacks, fighting and experienced branch leaders are being
In Greenwich £30 million of cuts are proposed; in
Hackney huge cuts are looming.
Yet the national leadership is prepared to wreck these
branches to pursue their own political aims.
The members of these branches are determined to fight
on and to preserve their ability to defend jobs, conditions and services.
It is more urgent than ever that action is taken to
halt the witch-hunt.
All union members need to be aware that this will not
stop at the four.
This fight is about democracy in the trade union
After the general election, all the main political
parties promise massive, historic cuts in the public sector.
Hundred of thousands will lose their jobs or be forced
to take pay cuts, while services will go to the wall, unless a determined
fight is launched by the trade unions.
But the national leadership of Unison is unwilling or
unable to fight, more determined to preserve its link with the big business
Labour government than defend its members.
Instead, they turn on socialists and activists who are
prepared to fight.
Unison Black Members reject the witch-hunt
The four were accused of attacking "the integrity of
the members of the Standing Orders Committee" for questioning the removal of
key motions from the 2007 Unison conference agenda.
Disgracefully, they were also charged with giving
"racist offence to members" because they used a leaflet with a cartoon of the
three wise monkeys, despite the investigation accepting there was no racist
To find four members who have always opposed
and campaigned against racism of being racist themselves is outrageous. From
the outset, the union leadership has been prepared to misuse the issue of
"Unless Mr Kasab and his colleagues are punished, black
Unison members can have no confidence in the union fighting racism." These
were the words of the Unison national officer who acted as the prosecution in
the union’s case.
Yet, in the first week of the attacks, a black Unison member
told us, "They are not going to use the colour of my skin for their own
purposes." It has been revealed that there are over 260 BNP members in the
union and there has been no action taken.
At the 2010 annual national black members’ conference, Onay
Kasab was the delegate from Greenwich. He spoke about his role in leading
strike action in 1988 to drive a fascist out of the union, and the role of
Greenwich Unison in the campaign to close the BNP headquarters in Welling.
He received several ovations during the three minutes he was
allowed to speak. Delegate after delegate approached Kas after his speech, to
congratulate him and to condemn the witch-hunt.
For two and a half years the four have been through tortuous
investigation and hearings, wasting tens of thousands of pounds of Unison
members’ money. Five were originally investigated but only those who are
Socialist Party members faced disciplinary hearings and bans from office,
clearly revealing that this is an attack on Socialist Party members.
One Unison member wrote: "The actions of the union are
undemocratic, threatening both personal and civil liberty. In a child’s
playground environment, the union would be identified as a bully."
A former regional organiser for the union appeared as a
witness for the four. He stated that he attended a two-day course where union
officers Linda Perks and Chris Remington confirmed that "dealing with the
problem of Trotskyite activists was indeed part of the course and what was
expected of us".
Chris Remington was quoted as saying that the "Trots" had to
be "castigated". The priority of every union should be to defend its members
from job losses, reduced hours and worse conditions.
However the Unison bureaucracy is instead narrowly focused
on silencing any opposition to the Unison leadership, especially socialists
with a track record of fighting for their members.
How you can help the campaign
* Send protests to: Dave Prentis, Unison HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London
WC1H 9AJ or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Send copies to:
Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG or e-mail: email@example.com
* Come on the lobby outside the fours mitigation hearing on 24th
February; venue to be announced;
* Please send donations so that Defend the Four can produce more
leaflets, book rooms for meetings and keep in touch with supporters.
Cheques payable to: Stop the witch-hunt. Send to: Defend the Four
Campaign, PO Box 858, London, E11 1YG.
* If you would like to receive e-mail updates on the campaign please
send your e-mail address to: info@ stopthewitchhunt.org.uk
Nominate Roger Bannister for UNISON General Secretary
Whoever wins the general election, members of Unison, like all other
public service workers, are in for a hard time.
All three capitalist parties have declared their intention to make the
working class pay for the financial crisis through attacks on jobs, pay,
pensions and public services.
Roger Bannister, with over 33 years of trade union experience and activity,
is standing for general secretary of Unison. If elected he will lead Unison
members, along with other public sector workers to fight against these
Roger Bannister’s record
Result in 2005
Dave Prentis 184,769 (76%).
Roger Bannister 41,406 (17%).
Jon Rogers (United Left) candidate 18,306 (7.48%).
Turnout 16.6% (membership entitled to vote 1,476,488).
Result in 2000
Roger Bannister (CFDU candidate) 71,021 (31.65%).
Dave Prentis 125,584 (55.9%).
Malkiat Bilku (a London hospital striker) 27,785 (12.3%).
Find out more at
WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER
LANDMARK RULING THAT UNLAWFUL TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A PERSON BECAUSE OF
THEIR PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEFS.
have been banned
from holding office in Unison for three to five years
have taken their case to an
employment tribunal - arguing that they are being discriminated against by the
Unison leadership on the basis of their "philosophical beliefs" (i.e. being
members of the Socialist Party).
Their case has now been strengthened
following the decision of an Employment Tribunal.
Follow the link below for more information.
The next dates for the Employment Tribunal are 15th to 18th December.
We need supporters to attend.
London Central Employment Tribunal
our new leaflet
Update 14 September 2009
All London meeting
University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1.
Nearest tubes –
Euston, Goodge St.
(President of PCS),
Brian Debus, Glenn
Kasab, Suzanne Muna,
Defend the Four page 1
(1mb, opens in new window)
the Four page 2 (1mb, opens in new window)
below is an article from a recent issue of the Socialist newspaper which
reports on the recent Employment Tribunal that the four are taking their case
Unison witch-hunt / employment tribunal: The truth is
As we reported in the last issue, four
Socialist Party members have been banned from holding office in Unison for
three to five years by a Unison disciplinary committee.
This follows the production of a leaflet at
the 2007 Unison conference which was said to cause "racist offence" because it
displayed the well-known cartoon of the 'three wise monkeys'.
One of the four, Brian Debus, has now been
found guilty of misappropriation of branch funds due to his role in arranging
the production of the leaflet.
He is already banned for five years and he
now awaits the decision of the disciplinary panel about further penalties.
Brian continues to receive full support from Unison members in his own Hackney
branch and others. He also has much support from trade unionists and other
campaigners in the Hackney area.
This report from a Socialist Party member
attending the recent Employment Tribunal shows some of the details of the
witch-hunt being waged by the Unison leadership.
While as socialists we place our faith in
action by the working class, when necessary we will take action in the courts.
The four Unison activists being witch-hunted by the union leadership were in
court at an employment tribunal for five days from 10 August.
The claim was that the four have been
discriminated against on the basis of their philosophical Marxist/Trotskyist
beliefs which are manifested through membership of the Socialist Party.
The campaign to defend the four calls for a
mass response from workers and left trade union leaders to protest against
this attack. The response so far has been fantastic, especially from members
of the Unison branches affected. Initial shock has turned to great anger as is
clear from the sentiment expressed in the letters sent to Unison.
One Unison member wrote the following: "The
actions of the union are undemocratic, threatening both personal and civil
liberty. In a child's playground environment, the union would be identified as
These words turned out to be prophetic as
shown in the tribunal. There is a long list of "comparator" evidence. Those
who have followed the campaign will be aware that originally it was "defend
the five", until the union dropped the charges against Matthew Waterfall, the
Hackney Unison branch secretary. Matthew is not a Socialist Party member.
Other comparators have now been provided to
the tribunal. These include examples of where the union itself has used the
image of the three wise monkeys, a conference delegate who repeatedly referred
to black people as "coloureds" and a leaflet that was sanctioned by the union
and distributed at the 2007 conference which denied that people of Eastern
European origin had any history of facing racial oppression.
In addition to the charge relating to the
three wise monkeys cartoon, the four are charged with questioning the
integrity of the union's standing orders committee (SOC), which is responsible
for deciding what is debated at conference.
The offending line in the text of the
leaflet, which relates to motions ruled out of order, states: "Is this because
they were controversial?"
The tribunal heard evidence of far sharper
challenges that are made to this committee each year at conference. One report
from the eastern region women's committee says that the SOC are inconsistent,
questions their accountability, says they make rulings based on personal views
and do not follow the wishes of women members. None of those responsible for
these comparators faced any action, yet four Socialist Party members now face
being barred from office.
The union's defence at the tribunal was
incredible. One comparator relates to Heather Wakefield, a union full-time
official who handed out peanuts and bananas to delegates at an employers'
conference, presumably to illustrate that if they "pay peanuts, they will get
monkeys", although no one could explain why bananas were being given out.
Heather did not take care to ensure that
nobody was caused any offence. Despite a complaint, no action was taken. The
union are saying that this cannot be used as a comparator because Heather
Wakefield, via the union barrister, has now declared herself as a Marxist!
This will be news to the thousands of Unison members in local government who
have seen their pay attacked on her watch.
But the union member's words quoted near the
start of this article were really shown as prophetic when Tom Snow, a former
regional organiser for the union, appeared as a witness. He stated that he
attended a two-day course where union officers Linda Perks and Chris Remington
confirmed that "dealing with the problem of Trotskyite activists was indeed
part of the course and what was expected of us". Tom quoted Linda as saying it
was what Unison general secretary Dave Prentis wanted. Other comments
included: "Some branches are off the wall".
Tom produced evidence that the Bromley branch
had been removed from his remit because in the words of the union "he failed
to deal with Glenn Kelly". Course participants were also told that the union
was "unhealthy", in a reference to Socialist Party members.
Most tellingly Chris Remington was quoted as
saying that the "trots" had to be "castigated". This is evidence of Unison not
only giving a clear line to full-time officials to witch-hunt union activists
but it also calls them onto courses designed for this purpose.
As if this needed further confirmation, the
union had clearly instructed its barrister to take the line that those who
held the views of Socialist Party members had no place in the union. In fact
he accused socialists of "infiltrating" the union.
The hearing has now been adjourned and will
begin again on 15 December, when the union will begin presenting its evidence.
There is no doubt amongst Unison activists that the union has misused the very
serious issue of race in order to meet its own political objectives via a
witch-hunt. This has clearly been exposed in the tribunal.
It is more urgent than ever that action is
taken to halt the witch-hunt. All union members need to be aware that this
will not stop at the four, nor is it limited to defending four union
activists. It is about democracy in the trade union movement. It is about the
leadership preparing for sell-outs by trying to clear out those who will fight
for Unison members and show a lead in taking on the employers.
The leadership have no answers of their own.
So much so that general secretary Dave Prentis was forced to use the words of
Glenn Kelly at conference this year when describing the union's relationship
with the Labour Party. The truth is now out. Unison members need to respond
loudly that witch-hunts have no place in the union.
How you can help the campaign
- Hundreds of protest letters have been sent
but the Defend the Four Campaign requests that more are sent where possible.
Send protests to: Dave Prentis, Unison HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Send copies to: Defend the Four Campaign,
PO Box 858, London E11 1YG or e-mail: email@example.com
- Defend the Four public meeting,
Wednesday 23 September 7.30 ULU, Malet Street, London (near Euston
station). Details to follow.
- Please send donations so that Defend the
Four can produce more leaflets, book rooms for meetings and keep in touch
with supporters. Cheques payable to: Stop the witch-hunt. Send to: Defend
the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London, E11 1YG.
- If you would like to receive e-mail
updates on the campaign please send your e-mail address to: info@
stopthewitchhunt.org.uk. Check out the website:
Download the latest
DEFEND THE FOUR - LATEST UPDATE July 27th
In the last newsletter we explained that the four had been found 'guilty' and given a ban from office for three years.
However we now know that while Glenn Kelly and Onay Kasab were given a 3 year ban, Brian Debus was given a 5 year ban and Suzanne a 4 year ban from holiding office !
Please see updated report and protest letter.
Copies of protest letters to Dave Prentis are coming in daily - many from trade union and anti-racist activists from abroad.
Thanks for your response so far and please keep them coming in !
DEFEND THE FOUR NEWSLETTER 24TH JULY 2009
SENTENCE HAS BEEN PASSED ON THE FOUR -
A BAN FROM OFFICE FOR THREE YEARS !
PROTESTS URGENTLY NEEDED
Please inform other trade unionists about the disgraceful punishment of the four.
Protest letters to Dave Prentis are needed. Please see Protest letter for standard letter to sign (or compose your own.)
Please see background information for details of the charges.
LOBBY UNISON HQ
A lobby will take place on Thursday 30th July outside the Unison HQ
Mabledon Place, London WC1H at 12 noon.
Other protests and meetings will be announced shortly.
Donations to the campaign are also needed.
Please make cheques payable to: 'Stop the Witch-hunt' and post to: Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London, E11 1YG
SEND YOUR PROTESTS TO:
1 Mabledon Place
London WC1H 9AJ
Telephone: 0845 355 0845
Please Send copies of protest statements to:
Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858 London E11 1YG
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Four Unison members,
Secretary Bromley UNISON and UNISON national executive), ONAY KASAB,
Greenwich UNISON), SUZANNE MUNA,
(Branch Secretary UNISON Tenant Services Authority),
Chair Hackney UNISON) were
accused of distributing a leaflet at the 2007 Unison conference
which questioned why a third of branch motions were omitted from the
Having argued that the leaflet contained
discriminatory material, Unison’s own investigation accepted there was
no racist intent. Instead of dropping the action Unison has instead
charged the four with a breach of rules for questioning the decisions
of the Standing Orders Committee, the body which authorises agenda
Taking disciplinary action against
branches who question union decisions represents a threat to union
The amount of support that the four have
received so far is tremendous and very much appreciated by the four.
Many of you have attended all the lobbies and we are asking you to
once again turn out on the 30th.
Protest letters to Dave Prentis are also
Please also send copies to:
APPEAL FOR FUNDS
donations towards the campaign are
Please make cheques payable to 'stop
Send to Defend the Four Campaign,
PO Box 858 London E11 1YG
Unison members facing disciplinary hearings have a proud record of standing up for their members and leading
struggles against their employers. They are fully supported by their
branches. They have received overwhelming support from members who have
attended meetings, protests and lobbies to voice their opposition to
these attacks, especially at the 2008 unison conference. The
disciplinary investigation was instigated a year and a half ago and the
four have already faced a 3-day hearing in May 2008.
campaigns and protests have helped defend the accused and highlight the
weak case against them.
In June 2007
the union bureaucracy launched a disciplinary investigation into five
branch officers for publishing a leaflet attacking the leadership for
blocking the union conference’s right to debate issues such as the
funding of the Labour Party, the election of full-time officials and
control over strike action. A third of all motions were ruled out of
order at the 2007 conference and nearly half for the 2008 conference.
Five members were investigated but only the four Socialist Party members
are facing disciplinary charges, underlining the political nature of
this attack. Having argued that the leaflet contained discriminatory
material the investigation now accepts there was no racist intent.
The four are now being attacked for producing and distributing a leaflet
questioning the decisions of the Standing Orders Committee. This is an
outright threat to democracy – effectively blocking members and branches
campaigning against any union decisions.
massive protests at the 2008 UNISON conference
weeks of the first hearing accusing the four of causing racist offence for
using the cartoon of the three wise monkeys, paid national officials of
the union held a protest outside the local government employers’
conference over the pay offer – during which they handed out peanuts
and bananas to delegates, some of whom were black and Asian!
Despite a protest by members at the differential treatment of the four,
the response has been to ignore it!
Then it was discovered that the UNISON South East regional disabled
members’ committee used a cartoon of the three wise monkeys on one of
their leaflets. A further protest was lodged and the response? Nothing! It
further came to light that an officially sanctioned leaflet was
distributed to UNISON national women’s conference, which again used the
three wise monkeys! These examples highlight the sheer hypocrisy of
the union and shows that this case has never had anything to do with the
issue of racism and everything to do with a political witchhunt
As the recession bites then the public sector will be made to pay for
the economic mess if the government gets its way.
This makes it even more important that we have a leadership that is up
to the task of defending our members. Disgracefully rather than a
serious attempt to look at its own mistakes the union leadership and
full time machine have instead sought to protect their positions of
power and privilege by looking to silence any voices of opposition
through wicthunts, taking over of branches and banning the right to
campaign. Handing over millions to New Labour whilst at the same time
asking members to fight to defend their jobs wages and conditions from
attack from the very same Labour government is asking members to go into
battle with one hand tied behind their backs by the union leadership.
Do not use
any union resources to print or distribute this leaflet
• Send messages
of support to: email@example.com
• Sign the
protest letter (on our website)
• Donate to the
campaign (See above)
The disciplinary investigation
In June last year the Unison
bureaucracy launched a
disciplinary investigation into
five union officers for daring to print
and publish a leaflet attacking the
union leadership for blocking the
union conference’s right to debate
issues such as the funding of the
Labour Party, the election of fulltime
officials and control over strike
A third of all motions were ruled
out of order last year and there is
growing anger that nearly half of all
motions have been ruled out for this
Four of the five under investigation
- all Socialist Party members - are
now facing a disciplinary hearing.
These are - Glenn Kelly, NEC member;
Onay Kasab, Greenwich branch
secretary; Suzanne Muna, Housing
Corporation branch secretary and
Brian Debus, Hackney branch chair.
20 May 2008 update
three days of hearings at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, at which Glenn Kelly
argued his case, the Union ruled that the hearings will continue after the
2008 Unison conference.
of the lobby of the 14th May 2008 can be found
(Continued from above)
All four have a proud record of
standing up for their members
and leading struggles against their
employers and are fully supported
by their branches.
"No racist intent" now accepted
Having argued that the leaflet
contained discriminatory material
the investigation now accepts that
there was no racist intent. The four
are now being attacked for producing
and distributing a leaflet questioning
the decisions of the Standing Orders
This is an outright threat to
democracy if members and branches
cannot campaign against union
If our employers had behaved in
the way the union has in handling
this case there would rightly be
uproar. However senior officers of
the union are happy to employ the
methods of the worst employers in
order to silence opposition in the
The union leadership should be
putting their effort into leading a
struggle for a decent wage rise and
not witch-hunting hard working and
respected branch officers.
This is not just an attack on these
four. Other activists and branches
who stand up to the leadership and
challenge decisions have also been
A message is being sent out – if
you stand up to and challenge the
leadership and organise opposition
to Labour’s policies then be prepared
for being witch-hunted.
How you can support the four and defend union democracy.
1. Ask supporters to make personal donations to (cheques to 'Stop the
2. Make sure supporters sign the petition or letter to show their
Please use the
Defend the 4 Appeal,
Defend the 4 Petition,
Defend the 4 Letter
the Re-instate Pat Lawlor Campaign website
Sign the petition here
TO CAMPAIGN FOR A DEMOCRATIC UNISON
leaflet advertises a meeting which will discuss building a democratic
union and to how to stop the witchhunts against dedicated activists who
are fighting for democracy.
ensure that you do not use any union resources to print or distribute
that you will be able to attend.
here for pdf of this leaflet
John Mc Donnell MP protests at Unison witch-hunt
At a recent meeting to oppose the witch-hunt, John McDonnell, the
Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington spoke. He subsequently wrote this
I recently attended a meeting and heard from Unison activists who are
being attacked by the leadership of their own union. As with other
individuals who attended the meeting I am horrified, shocked and quite
frankly outraged, especially when I heard of the detail of the
allegations against the individuals concerned.
I am a Unison member myself and I therefore want to go on record as
pledging my support to those activists now being witch-hunted by a
section of the Union. I want to pledge my support in particular to Yunus
Bakhsh, Glenn Kelly, Onay Kasab, Tony Staunton, Suzanne Muna and Brian
Unison members at present are fighting against pay cuts and having to
cope with the consequences of inflation, they are fighting attacks on
their jobs and terms and conditions as well as countering the threat
from the BNP. While witch-hunts should never take place, how can the
union justify this political attack on long standing trade unionists,
anti racists and black activists, while at the same time there is so
much work to do for our members?
I say a political attack, because that is what I believe this to be.
As I stated at the meeting I attended it is the case that in order for
free market policies to flourish, for wages to be held back, for
privatisation to continue unopposed and for workers to be made to pay
for the crisis in the economy then it is equally necessary for the
organisations of the workers, our parties, our trade unions, to be made
One way to do that is to clear out fighters and militants. That is
what this is. Unison's leadership are doing the bosses a favour.
It is a political witch-hunt. If it is successful then the losers
will be ordinary Unison members. That is how important this campaign
against the witch-hunt now is. That is why I support those being
attacked. I ask all Unison members to do the same and I call on the
Union leadership to end this witch-hunt today.
I hope that all Unison members who believe that our union should be
an effective force fighting for our members and not against our
activists will unite in a campaign for democracy in our union. Trade
unions belong to their members. It is us ordinary members who make up
the union. Our voice should be heard and our views listened to.
Closing down the right of members to have a democratic say in our
union by attacking and hounding individual members and manipulating the
structures and rules of the union is increasingly undermining the
confidence of our members in their union. Eventually this will damage
and undermine the effectiveness and the very existence of our union. I
believe that all those that want to save our union should stand up now
and demand a democratic union.
September 2007 archive
Defend the five campaign
has been launched
because of the attack by Unison’s
leadership on four London
branches and five officers of these
The attack began at the June
Local Government and National
Delegate Conference in Brighton when
these branches sought to challenge why
our conferences are constantly denied
the right to debate issues by the
standing orders committee just because
some see them as too controversial.
This year we couldn’t even debate the
pension’s dispute at our local
government conference!! The five
officers, under investigation are Glenn
Kelly NEC member and Bromley branch
secretary, Onay Kasab, Greenwich
Branch secretary, Brian Debus and
Matthew Waterfall, Hackney branch
chair and secretary respectively and
Suzanne Muna, housing corporation
Despite the fact that the rules of the
union protect the democratic right of
members to campaign they are being
investigated for producing and handing
out a leaflet (below) that complained about the manipulation of the
conference agendas by the standing
Despite the leaflet
making no derogatory remarks about
any individual member of the standing
orders committee, the former president
announced an investigation and then
allowed and supported an
unsubstantiated and unjustified attack of
alleged racism without giving the
branches the right to respond.
Well known proverb
The leaflet used the well known
Buddhist proverb and cartoon of ‘see no
evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’.
This is a
widely used piece of established political
satire to express a view of not being
heard or listened to; it has no racist
The fact that black delegates were
involved in authorising and agreeing
the leaflet as well as handing it out
demonstrates that they had no
As one black delegate said,
“They will not be allowed to use the
colour of my skin to hide behind their
undemocratic attempts to control the
conference or the delegates."
The leadership’s attack has nothing to
do with taking the issue of racism
seriously, but everything to do with
attacking branch officers who all have a
track record of challenging the
leadership and of fighting racism.
attacks will be vigorously fought,
including if necessary appealing to the
courts for justice, which the leadership
seem intent on denying.
The reality of this attack is that it is part
of a wider attempt by the union
leadership to clamp down the
democratic rights of members and
So fearful are they of the growing
opposition to their misrule that they are
now seeking to shut down all voices of
opposition in the union.
They know that increasingly members
are questioning why our leaders fail to
give a lead in the fight against low pay,
privatisation and the attacks coming
from the likes of single status.
In what is
supposed to be a union led by the
members, in the last couple of months
alone they have banned branches from
campaigning for a no vote in the pension
ballot and distributing NEC member
Glenn Kelly’s vote No report.
They threatened Onay Kasab the
Greenwich branch secretary because he
wrote an article on single status saying
that his branch had voted to “reject any
proposals that lead to a loss of a
single penny from a single unison
member”, telling him this was against
union policy because “it may be necessary for some members to take
a drop in pay to achieve equal pay”!!
They have now told the health branches
that they cannot call for their members
to reject the pitiful pay offer in their
current pay consultation ballot.
The leadership of the union has the
temerity to attack UNISON members’
rights in what is supposed to be a
member-led union, and they do it in the name of the “democracy in UNISON
They are increasingly
distorting the union rules and guidelines
on democratic rights to say no branch or
individual can campaign on anything
that is in opposition to the leadership.
These attacks on democratic rights are
part of a general offensive by the
leadership to hang onto power no matter
They took fright at the recent NEC
election results where several prominent right-wingers lost their seats to those
who want to see a fighting union.
some in the leadership even this small
gain was too much; they are now
prepared to attack the rights of
members to stay in power.
We call on all branches and members to
oppose the undemocratic witchhunt on
these five union activists and begin the
fight to win real democratic control over
This branch, having seen the “Let Branches Decide”
leaflet, is shocked that the National Union is wasting
time, money and resources on an investigation and
possible disciplinary action against five branch officials.
We believe it was perfectly legitimate for those
branches to have campaigned against the ruling out
of one third of conference motions submitted to this year’s
We believe that it was wrong that that the sovereign
body of the union was denied the right to debate
issues such as pensions, the election of union
officials and the control of industrial action being
given back to branches.
We believe that these branches should not face
attacks for having the temerity to raise complaint
when these debates are banned.
The union is misusing the fact that the leaflet used a
cartoon, which is in everyday use and is a genuine
well-established piece of political satire.
We believe this attack to be nothing more than a
politically motivated attack on 4 branches and its
1. An end to this investigation.
2. This motion to be sent to the NEC and next
3. Circulate and encourage members to sign the
“Defend the Five Petition".
4. Circulate material from the campaign to
members and other branches seeking their support.
first leaflet (opens in new window)