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Posted on 7 February 2012 at 21:33 GMT

Victory! Health bosses back off from attack on Unison rep

Today, Len Hockey, a joint Unison branch secretary at Whipps Cross hospital in London, received a letter from his employer Initial stating that there is no case to answer in their attempt to discipline him.

This is a fantastic victory against an anti-union employer who wanted to clear out a fighting union leadership.

Initial had trumped up a charge of Len meeting with union members without prior approval from management. Without a shred of evidence and with the fury of union members on their necks, management backed down!

As soon as the threat to Len was raised, with a unanimous show of hands an emergency meeting of Unison members agreed to prepare for strike action and to demand the London region of Unison do everything in their power to defend Len.

Emails of protest flooded in to the employer from all over the country, and to Unison to demand they vigorously defend Len.

A campaign of protests at the gate and of petitioning around the hospital galvanised support across the board - from porters and domestics, nurses, doctors, social workers, ambulance workers, onsite nursery and canteen staff, hospital volunteers and visitors.

On the morning of Len's investigation, staff and visitors were met by a sea of "Defend Union Reps" posters and placards and a gathering of supporters.

This is a victory in the face of a rotten bureaucracy in London Unison. While ordinary members and elected reps across London rallied to Len's support in a display of genuine trade unionism, the union bureaucracy did nothing other than act to undermine and attack Len.

This is a victory despite them - they should now back off from any further attempts to divide and weaken this workforce.

Unison must fight. If not, workers will not stay around in a union that tries to hand over activists' heads on a plate instead of fighting to defend them.

Paula Mitchell

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