Defend the Four Campaign: Defend Union democracy

 
 

 

4 September 2013:

Historic victory for Witch-Hunted Four

Six years after this saga started on 9 August an Employment Tribunal remedy hearing gave a damning verdict both financially and in words over Unisons leadership’s witch-hunt of 4 of its activists.

Glenn Kelly Bromley, Suzanne Muna Tenant Services, Onay Kasab Greenwich, and Brian Debus Hackney known as the Unison Four and all members of the Socialist party, were falsely accused of racism for producing a leaflet featuring a cartoon of the ‘three wise monkeys.

The award of compensation totalling £49,000 was for being “unjustifiable disciplined” by Unisons bureaucracy. Given that the average pay-out for a worker from a tribunal is about £4,000, the tribunal's decision to award £49,000 in total to the four shows how serious the union's actions were viewed.

Malicious

The award was made reflecting the stress hurt and injury to feelings they all suffered. Additionally in reference to Glenn Kelly the Tribunal stated

"That we are satisfied that the conduct of the respondent (Unison) amounted to high-handed, malicious and oppressive conduct and we decided in the case of Mr Kelly to award an additional award for aggravated damages."

Agreeing the damages the court found all four activists to be "committed and dedicated trade unionists, elected by the members and who had devoted either the whole or a large part of their working life to advising and representing their members and their interests at regional and national level".

Despite this, in an attempt to diminish its actions, the union bureaucracy had tried to argue in the remedy hearing that the damage done to us was minimal as we were 'Marxists and Socialist Party members and were used to the rough and tumble of political life'.

The court responded by saying: "We do not accept that the claimants' political beliefs and or activities made them in some way impervious or immune to hurt caused by the action of the respondents".

Alongside the ban, we also had to face our branches being taken into regional administration. All along the union tried to say the two events weren't related.

However, the court rejected this saying: "It is inconceivable that there was no link between the claimants being banned and the branches being taken into regional administration."

In reference to the raids by union officials on the offices of the affected branches the tribunal said: "It was done in a way to cause the maximum humiliation to the claimants".

 

2007 The Back Story

 

Over 6 years ago four London branches Bromley, Greenwich and Hackney and Housing Corporations branch (it later became the Tenant Services Branch) sent motions to conference calling for regular elections of Senior paid officials of Unison and speeding up the process of balloting for strike action.

They were charged with unintentional racism and challenging the integrity of the Standing Orders Committee (SOC) for the use of the cartoon of 3 wise monkeys to indicate injustice on a leaflet to depict the SOC who had barred the motions.

On March 3rd 2010 for this crime the four branch officers Glenn Kelly, Onay Kasab, Brian Debus, and Suzanne Muna were barred from holding any office in UNISON for between 2 and 3 years. On the same day they closed down three of the four branches placing them in Regional administration so removing any democratic control from the members.

 

3 WISE MONKEYS INNOCENT

 

An Employment Tribunal (ET) and an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) have found Unison guilty of taking unjustifiable disciplinary action against the four

Further in the January 2011 (ET) Judgement it forcefully rejected the allegation of racism. “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 in closing its minds to and ignoring issues that concern the membership.”

Unbelievably, Unison filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal against the ET and the (EAT) decisions. Then on 17 July 2012, Unison demanded the right to claim costs if they won the appeal. But the Unison leadership’s demands were thrown out of court with Lord Justice Elias calling Unison “shabby”. "The judge ordered that UNISON could not claim costs, even if they win in court in December".

Only on 20 November 2012  did the union leadership do a complete U-turn. They have written to the court to withdraw their appeal. In doing so the union has now accepted the previous courts’ decision that they acted illegally. So for nearly 2 years an illegal ban and the continued closure of the Bromley and Greenwich branches carried on.

The four have now set legal history in defending the right of union members to defend themselves from being attacked by union bureaucracies seeking to silence dissent.

Over £500K Down the Drain

Although the ban on Onay Kasab and Glenn Kelly ended in March 2012 the Greenwich branch had to wait another 6 months for elections and in Bromley their AGM only took place in March this year with Glenn Kelly elected as branch Secretary. So for 2.5 years and 3 years these branches were still run by unelected regional officials of Unison with no lay member control. Consequently1, 000 members left Unison and joined Unite representing £150,000 year in lost subscriptions since 2011.

Unison must have spent over £200,000 in legal fees, plush hotels and untold hours of officers’ time on this case.

DEMOCRACY V UNELECTED BUREAUCRACY

The two ET judgements and the costs hearing taken as a whole are a devastating indictment of the role of unelected and unaccountable paid officials in UNISON, usurping democracy to retain their positions of power and influence.

One unelected national officer is reported to have said “we will take this case to Strasbourg if necessary”.

This just proves how out of touch and arrogant these officials are

24 HOUR General Strike Now

Pity the same commitment and energy was not devoted to a fighting strategy to defend our pensions with further strike action, prevent four years of nil wages rises by this government and stopping the hundreds of thousands of job losses. We need a UNISON leadership to fight all the cuts to our members' jobs living standards and pensions, and defend all the services they rely on for a decent life.

What we need is a fighting Unison Leadership to carry out the policy of the TUC Congress to coordinate with other Unions for a 24 hour General Strike to drive this weak Government out of office.

Given these findings, the question still remains: Who will be held to account inside Unison for spending six years attacking dedicated union activists and wasting literally hundreds of thousands of pounds of our members' money?

We need to campaign for the election of officials and democratic control over all UNISON structures.

Within the next 4 weeks there should be a pamphlet available which will detail the events touched on above and the lessons to be learned and applied to prevent this happening in the future. Please be prepared to place your order now

Defend the Four campaign Po Box 858 London E11 1YG.

Email info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk  Website www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

Video link to the Defend the 4 film. Historic victory for witch-hunted four

 http://youtu.be/HDdKmGNAYLw

 


1 May 2013:

Employment tribunal remedy hearing

On 3 May, after nearly six years of a tortuous fight with the Unison bureaucracy, an employment tribunal remedy hearing is to be held. This is to finally resolve the outstanding issue of the illegal action that was taken against four Unison members, Glenn Kelly, Suzanne Muna, Onay Kasab and Brian Debus.

 

These four Socialist Party members have been subjected to a sustained witch-hunt after leafleting Unison conference in 2007. They were falsely accused of racism and banned from holding office in the union for between two and three years each.

 

The employment tribunal ruled that Unison acted illegally. The union appealed against the original decision and lost. They were going to the High Court but pulled out. The next stage for the Four is to seek financial compensation.

 


 

 



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Historic victory for witch-hunted four

The white flag of surrender is currently flying over Unison HQ. Over five and half years the union leadership have pursued a vicious witch-hunt against four Unison activists and Socialist Party members, falsely accusing them of racism for producing a leaflet featuring a cartoon of the ‘three wise monkeys’. The union leadership has spent over £100,000 and have been prepared to lose thousands of defecting members and many good activists.

In January 2011 an Employment Tribunal (ET) Judgement (under Employment judge Ms H Grewal) forcefully rejected the allegation of racism. “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 in closing its minds to and ignoring issues that concern the membership.”

Unbelievably, Unison filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal against the ET and an Employment Appeal Tribunals’ decisions. Then on 17 July this year, Unison demanded the right to claim costs if they won the appeal. But the Unison leadership’s demands were thrown out of court with Lord Justice Elias calling Unison “shabby”. Only on 20 November did the union leadership do a complete u-turn. They have written to the court to withdraw their appeal. In doing so the union has now accepted the previous courts’ decision that they acted illegally. A hearing will now be called to determine the compensation that the union will have to pay to the four.

The four have now set legal history in defending the right of union members to defend themselves from being attacked by union bureaucracies seeking to silence them.

This is a victory for the Socialist Party and the Four, who have refused to be bullied and intimidated. They have run a determined five-year campaign exposing the actions of the union.

The Socialist Party would also like to put on record its thanks to the lawyers who gave their support and time for free, showing that not all lawyers are just in it for the money, in particular, Nick De Marco.

 

The four will be holding a press conference and photo opportunity outside UNISON HQ, Euston Road, London on Monday 26 November at 9 am.

 

Witch-hunting Unison leadership "shabby" declares judge

In a humiliating response to Unison's attempts to bully four witch-hunted Socialist Party members out of defending ourselves in court due to lack of money, Lord Justice Elias has called Unison "shabby".

The judge went on to say: "Imagine if it was an employer trying to do it to a union, one would be shocked". In another attack he said: "What do you want, do you want no opposition at the appeal, is that it? Or is this just a grudge match?"

Unison is wasting members' money by appealing against two previous decisions by the courts that found that the union leadership's action against the four was "unjustifiable".

On 17 July Unison demanded the right to claim costs if they win the appeal. The four's costs are £100,000. But the Unison leadership's demands were thrown out of court.

It is disgraceful that, through this demand for costs, Unison risked reinforcing case law by defending the bosses' right to claim costs against workers. It is bad enough that the union is acting in a malicious way against us. But to damage the rights of all British workers is unforgivable.

99.9% of employment tribunal cases will obviously be a worker versus an employer. In most cases workers cannot have costs awarded against them in an Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal.

But if a worker wants to appeal or defend an appeal to the court of appeal against an employer, they can face costs of £100,000 or more if they lose. In most cases this allows a bullying employer to force workers to back down.

It is clear that the Tories are looking to ratchet up the anti-worker laws to aid the employers in carrying out cuts and protect their profits. They have already given the right to the bosses to unfairly sack a worker who has less than two years' service without being taken to a tribunal. They are about to charge workers £1,200 if they want to lodge a claim at a tribunal - which they will not necessarily get back even if they win.

Through this attempt to extract costs, the Unison leadership was seeking to further weaken a worker's right to take on the employers in the courts.

We could not have afforded to defend our case if we had not won this costs protection order, so we would have had to withdraw. Unlike in the lower courts, the case would have gone ahead in our absence.

If in those circumstances Unison had won, it could not have claimed its costs against us anyway. So Unison had nothing to lose by stating it wouldn't claim costs against us - unless of course its intention was to bully us out of being represented.


'Defend the UNISON Four - Democracy Not Bureacracy'

Latest leaflet

Click here for a pdf of this leaflet

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Please sign our online petition at:
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/democracy-not-bureaucracy-in-unison
Click here to dowload a copy of the petition


New leaflet

Click here for a pdf of this leaflet

DEFEND THE FOUR: DROP THE BAN

UNISON’s leadership have been found guilty of “Unjustifi able” disciplinary action against four Socialist Party activists for producing a leafl et protesting about the exclusion of resolutions from the 2007 UNISON Conference.

An Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) on 22nd February 2012 upheld the unanimous judgement of an earlier employment tribunal (27th January 2011).

The ET judgement last year rejected false allegations of racism against the four and found that the real reason for disciplinary action was that they had issued a leafl et criticising the Standing Orders Committee and the union leadership of preventing discussion on issues of union democracy.

The EAT rejected all five grounds on which the UNISON leadership appealed against last year’s ET judgement. The four activists who were disciplined by UNISON were banned from holding any union offi ce for up to three years.

The four are Glenn Kelly (formerly Bromley Branch Secretary and Executive member), Onay Kasab (formerly Greenwich Branch Secretary), Suzanne Muna (formerly Housing Corporation Branch Secretary) and Brian Debus (formerly Hackney Branch Chair).

The day after the ban was imposed, three of these four branches were taken into regional administration. Two years later, this is still the case.

The judgement of the ET and the EAT completely vindicates the four’s struggle to defend union democracy. The unjustifi ed sanctions against the four are part of a wider witch hunt being carried out by the UNISON leadership against activists fighting for union democracy and effective action to defend public services, jobs, pay and conditions.

There is now a rising tide of discontent within the union at the ineffective policies of the leadership when faced with a tsunami of attacks on the public sector.

The UNISON leadership unscrupulously tried to bolster their disciplinary charges with allegations of racism. This related to a cartoon on the leafl et protesting about the Standing Orders Committee’s suppression of over 50 resolutions that used the well known image of three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

The ET judgement forcefully rejected the allegation of racism: “All four claimants are committed anti-racists who have fought against racism. They quite reasonably assumed that anyone who saw the leafl et would understand the cartoon to be saying that the SOC was out of touch in closing its minds to, and ignoring issues that concern the membership.

Looking at the context in which the cartoon was used (ie. to depict the attitude of the SOC towards controversial motions) it cannot be said that any reasonable person would or should have realised that it would cause racial offence, and that not doing so was somehow ‘careless’.

That is reinforced by the fact that [it] never occurred to many people who saw the cartoon before the publication. These individuals included an equalities and diversity offi cer and black members.” The tribunal found that the main reason for disciplinary action against the four was that they produced a leafl et criticising the SOC for rejecting a large number of branch resolutions.

The two judgements taken as a whole area devastating indictment of the role of unelected and unaccountable paid offi cials in UNISON, usurping democracy to retain their positions of power and influence. These national offi cers are estimated to have now wasted 100,000 on the disciplinary hearings in plush hotels and legal costs in tribunals, and a Queens Counsel.

One unelected national offi cer is reported to have said “We will take this case to Strasbourg if necessary”. Pity the same commitment and energy is not devoted to a fi ghting strategy to defend our pensions with further strike action, prevent three years’ of nil wage rises by this government and the hundreds of thousands of job losses. These unelected, unaccountable national offi cers have now sought leave to appeal the EAT decision to a higher court and potentially waste another £100,000.

To fight this case in the courts could cost the four up to £10,000 so please do some of the following:

1. Pass motions of support through your union branch to drop the bans and lift the regional supervision from the branches;

2. Send letters of protest to the National Executive Committee of UNISON and to the General Secretary Dave Prentis at UNISON Centre, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY, or email d.prentis@unison.co.uk. Copies should be sent to info@stopthewitchhunt. org.uk;

3. Organise a collection in your workplace / union branch towards the legal costs of the four. Please make cheques payable to: Stop The Witch-Hunt and send to Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG;

4. Campaign for the election of officials and democratic control over all UNISON structures.


Unison leadership found guilty of “unjustifiable discipline” against four Socialist Party activists

Victory for the Unison 4

Once again, the Unison leadership has been found guilty of “unjustifiable” disciplinary action against four activists for producing a leaflet protesting about the exclusion of resolutions from the 2007 Unison conference.

Today an Employment Appeal Tribunal (Judge Michael Supperstone QC) upheld the unanimous judgment of an earlier Employment Tribunal (Employment Judge Ms H Grewal, 27 January 2011).

That ET judgment last year rejected false allegations of racism against the four and found that the real reason for disciplinary action was that they had issued a leaflet criticising the Standing Orders Committee and the union leadership of preventing discussion on issue of union democracy.

Today’s EAT rejects all five grounds on which the Unison leadership appealed against last year’s ET judgment.

Completely vindicated

The four activists who were disciplined by Unison were banned from holding any union office for up to three years. The four are Glenn Kelly (formerly Bromley branch secretary and NEC member), Onay Kasab (formerly Greenwich branch secretary), Brian Debus (formerly Hackney branch chairperson), and Suzanne Muna (formerly Housing Corporation branch secretary).

The judgments of the ET and the EAT completely vindicate the four’s struggle to defend union democracy. The unjustified sanctions against the four are part of a wider witch-hunt being carried out by the Unison leadership against activists fighting for union democracy and effective action to defend public services, jobs, pay and conditions. There is now a rising tide of discontent within the union at the ineffective policies of the leadership when faced with a tsunami of attacks on the public sector.

Unscrupulous

The Unison leadership unscrupulously tried to bolster their disciplinary charges with allegations of racism. This related to a cartoon on the leaflet protesting about the Standing Orders Committee’s suppression of over 50 resolutions that used the well-known image of three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

The ET judgment forcefully rejected the allegation of racism: “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 in closing its minds to and ignoring issues that concern the membership.”

“Looking at the context in which the cartoon was used (i.e. to depict the attitude of the SOC towards controversial motions) it cannot be said that any reasonable person would or should have realised that it would cause racial offence, and that not doing so was somehow ‘careless’. That is reinforced by the fact that [it] never occurred to many people who saw the cartoon before its publication. These individuals included an Equalities and Diversity officer and black members.”

Unison’s own lawyers had used a cartoon of the three wise monkeys

Incredibly, during the case, it was discovered that Unison’s own lawyers had used a cartoon of the three wise monkeys.

The tribunal found that the main reason for disciplinary action against the four was that they produced a leaflet criticising the SOC for rejecting a large number of branch resolutions.

It is estimated that the Unison leadership must have spent at least £100,000 on the disciplinary hearings and tribunal cases. At a time when the focus should have been on fighting public-sector cuts, the four have been dragged through four years of tortuous, money-wasting investigations and hearings.

Glenn Kelly, one of the four, is demanding that the witchhunts must stop,and the four branches taken out of regional administration so that the members can run their branches. Also that the bans on the four should be rescinded and the latest charge against Glenn should be withdrawn.

Glenn urges UNISON to fight the Condem government instead of hard working union activists.

For more info phone: 07595352795


Defend the Four Tribunal Victory

On the 27th January the bureaucracy of UNISON was rocked when an employment tribunal 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 (Consolidation) Act 1992”. For nearly four years now the four claimants, lay activists Glenn Kelly (Bromley), Onay Kasab (Greenwich), Suzanne Muna (Tenant Services Authority), and Brian Debus (Hackney) have been fighting to clear their names and their branches of allegations of racism. At the end of a contorted disciplinary process they were banned from office for between 2 and 3 years each. Their alleged crime, producing and distributing a leaflet for the 2007 National Conference containing the image of three wise monkeys to indicate injustice and calling for the reinstatement of motions ruled out of order by the Standing Orders Committee (SOC).

Three Wise Monkeys Exonerated

It is worth quoting from the judgement on the issue of racism: “Looking at the context in which the cartoon was used (ie to depict the attitude of the SOC towards the controversial motions) it cannot be said that any reasonable person would or should have realised that it would cause racial offence and that not doing so was somehow careless”. The judgement taken as a whole is a devastating indictment of the role of unelected, paid officials in UNISON, usurping democracy to retain their positions of power and influence. The bureaucracy was able to hide behind ‘sub judice’, no scrutiny by members of the decisions has been allowed.

Justice Denied

Officials in the union without recourse to the democratic structures of the union have now lodged an appeal against this judgement. After already spending over £50k on this case, they are now intent on wasting tens of thousands of pounds of members’ money seeking to overturn this decision in the courts. One unelected national officer is reported to have said “we will take this case to Strasbourg if necessary”. Pity the same commitment and energy is not devoted to a fighting strategy to prevent three years of nil wage rises by this government and the hundreds of thousands of job losses, and defending public sector pension schemes of UNISON members. It is because the bureaucracy is frightened by its members demanding more democratic control over the policies and structures of the union that they are continuing to attack the four. The tribunal victory and the welcome reception this has received from thousands of our members confirms the justice of our case.

Things To Do:

To continue to fight this case in the courts would cost the four up to £10,000. We need you to do some of the following:

• Pass motions of support through your union branch and send letters of protest to the National Executive Committee of UNISON and to the General Secretary Dave Prentis at UNISON HQ, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ or email d.prentis@unison.co.uk.

• Organise a collection in your workplace. Please make cheques payable to ‘Stop the Witch-Hunt’ and send to Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG.

• Campaign for the election of officials and democratic control over all UNISON structures. To keep up to date with the campaign email info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk and visit the website www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk




Four unison activists, all members of the Socialist Party, have been banned from Office for between three to five years: from left to right,

* GLENN KELLY, UNISON national executive and Branch Secretary Bromley UNISON,

* ONAY KASAB, Branch Secretary Greenwich UNISON,

* SUZANNE MUNA, Branch Secretary UNISON Tenant Services Authority, and

* BRIAN DEBUS, Branch Chair Hackney UNISON


2 February 2011

VICTORY FOR UNISON FOUR!

Demonstration outside Unison HQ against witchhunt of four unison members, photo Paul Mattsson

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.

Glenn Kelly

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."

Witch-hunt

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 corner)

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 posts.

Click here to download a protest motion - see below

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 positions.

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

Urgent

Dawn raids on unison offices!

Ban imposed on four unison branch leaders 

Latest Leaflet 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 Prentis: d.prentis@unison.co.uk

- UNISON London Region: greaterlondonregion@unison.co.uk

3. Phone UNISON Head Office to express your disgust on 0845 355 0845 

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: info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk.


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 years.

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.

Judgment

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 years.

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 attack.

Members are incensed that just at a time when they are facing greater attacks, fighting and experienced branch leaders are being removed.

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 movement.

General election

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 intent.

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 racism.

"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.

Political attack

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: d.prentis@unison.co.uk Send copies to:

Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG or e-mail: info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

* 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 attacks.

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%).

Turnout 16.5%.

Find out more at www.rogerbannister-unison.blogspot.com

 

 


 

WEDNESDAY 4TH NOVEMBER

LANDMARK RULING THAT UNLAWFUL TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST A PERSON BECAUSE OF THEIR PHILOSOPHICAL BELIEFS.

The four
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.

http://www.bindmans.com/index.php?id=638

The next dates for the Employment Tribunal are 15th to 18th December.

We need supporters to attend.

London Central Employment Tribunal
Ground Floor
Victory House
30-34 Kingsway
London
WC2B 6


Download our new leaflet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Update 14 September 2009

All London meeting

Wednesday 23 September, 7.30pm

Upper Hall, University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1.

Nearest tubes – Euston, Goodge St.

 

Speakers: Janice Godrich (President of PCS),

Brian Debus, Glenn Kelly, Onay

Kasab, Suzanne Muna,

other speakers invited.

 

Latest PDFs:

Leaflet: Defend the Four page 1  (1mb, opens in new window)

Defend the Four page 2   (1mb, opens in new window)

 

Printed 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 to.

Unison witch-hunt / employment tribunal: The truth is coming out

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 a bully."

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: d.prentis@unison.co.uk Send copies to: Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858, London E11 1YG or e-mail: info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk
  • 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: www.stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

 

 

Download the latest leaflet here

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:

UNISON HQ

1 Mabledon Place

London WC1H 9AJ

Telephone: 0845 355 0845

e-mail: d.prentis@unison.co.uk

Please Send copies of protest statements to:

Defend the Four Campaign, PO Box 858 London E11 1YG

or email info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

---------------------------------------

Four Unison members, GLENN KELLY, (Branch Secretary Bromley UNISON and UNISON national executive), ONAY KASAB, (Branch Secretary Greenwich UNISON), SUZANNE MUNA, (Branch Secretary UNISON Tenant Services Authority), and BRIAN DEBUS, (Branch 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 agenda.

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 items.

Taking disciplinary action against branches who question union decisions represents a threat to union democracy.

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 important.

Please also send copies to: info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

---------------------------------------

 

APPEAL FOR FUNDS

donations towards the campaign are needed.

Please make cheques payable to 'stop the witch-hunt'

Send to Defend the Four Campaign,

PO Box 858 London E11 1YG

 


 

 

All four 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.

The 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.

UNION HYPOCRISY

There were massive protests at the 2008 UNISON conference

 Within 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: info@stopthewitchhunt.org.uk

• 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 action.

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 year’s conference.

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.

(Continued below)


20 May 2008 update

After 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.


Video of lobby

Video of the lobby of the 14th May 2008 can be found here


(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 Committee.

This is an outright threat to democracy if members and branches cannot campaign against union decisions.

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 union.

Witch-hunt

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 disciplined.

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 witch-hunt' )

2. Make sure supporters sign the petition or letter to show their opposition.

3. Please use the Defend the 4 Appeal, the Defend the 4 Petition, and the Defend the 4 Letter


Visit the Re-instate Pat Lawlor Campaign website

Sign the petition here


MEETING TO CAMPAIGN FOR A DEMOCRATIC UNISON

This 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.  

Please ensure that you do not use any union resources to print or distribute this leaflet.

I hope that you will be able to attend.

Glenn Kelly

Click 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 statement:

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 Debus.

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 impotent.

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.

 

How you can support the four and defend union democracy

Get a speaker, sign the letter

Unison members demonstrate

 


 

16 June 2008

Leaflet for Unison conference 2008

Click on the link for the leaflet produced to defend the four at Unison conference


 

September 2007 archive

Defend the five campaign

This campaign has been launched because of the attack by Unison’s leadership on four London branches and five officers of these branches.

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 branch secretary.

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 orders committees.

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 connotations.

The fact that black delegates were involved in authorising and agreeing the leaflet as well as handing it out demonstrates that they had no concerns.

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.

 

Unison members demonstrate

These 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 branches.

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”!!

The leaflet - judge for yourself

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 guidelines”.

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 what.

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.

For 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 our union.

 

We are asking all unison members to oppose the witch-hunt and pass the following motion in your branch

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 conference.

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 lead officers.

1. An end to this investigation.

2. This motion to be sent to the NEC and next Regional Council/Committee.

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.

 

Download first leaflet (opens in new window)

 

 

Unison members demonstrate for better pay

 

 

 

Unison members demonstrate for better pay

Defend democracy, oppose bureaucracy